Transcription of the bacteriophage Mu mom operon requires transactivation by the phage-encoded C protein. DNase I footprinting showed that in the absence of C, Escherichia coli RNA polymerase E(sigma)70 (RNAP) binds to the mom promoter (Pmom) region at a site, P2 (from -64 to -11 with respect to the transcription start site), on the top (non-transcribed) strand. This is slightly upstream from, but overlapping P1 (-49 to +16), the functional binding site for rightward transcription. Host DNA-[N6-adenine] methyltransferase (Dam) methylation of three GATCs immediately upstream of the C binding site is required to prevent binding of the E.coli OxyR protein, which represses mom transcription in dam- strains. OxyR, known to induce DNA bending, is normally in a reduced conformation in vivo, but is converted to an oxidized state under standard in vitro conditions. Using DNase I footprinting, we provide evidence supporting the proposal that the oxidized and reduced forms of OxyR interact differently with their target DNA sequences in vitro. A mutant form, OxyR-C199S, was shown to be able to repress mom expression in vivo in a dam- host. In vitro DNase I footprinting showed that OxyR-C199S protected Pmom from -104 to -46 on the top strand and produced a protection pattern characteristic of reduced wild-type OxyR. Prebinding of OxyR-C199S completely blocked RNAP binding to P2 (in the absence of C), whereas it only slightly decreased binding of C to its target site (-55 to -28, as defined by DNase I footprinting). In contrast, OxyR-C199S strongly inhibited C-activated recruitment of RNAP to P1. These results indicate that OxyR repression is mediated subsequent to binding by C. Mutations have been isolated that relieve the dependence on C activation and have the same transcription start site as the C-activated wild-type promoter. One such mutant, tin7, has a single base change at -14, which changes a T6 run to T3GT2. OxyR-C199S partially inhibited RNAP binding to the tin7 promoter in vitro, even though the OxyR and RNAP-P1 binding sites probably do not overlap, and in vivo expression of tin7 was reduced 5- to 10-fold in dam- cells. These results suggest that OxyR can repress tin7.
The phage Mu C gene product is a specific activator of Mu late gene transcription, including activation of the mom operon. Fusion of the C gene to the efficient translation initiation region of the Escherichia coli atpE gene allowed significant overproduction of C protein, which was subsequently purified and assayed for DNA binding by gel retardation and nuclease footprinting techniques. C protein binds to a site immediately upstream of the -35 region both of the mom promoter and the related phage D108 mod promoter. The location of the mom promoter has been determined by primer extension. Upstream deletions extending more than 3 base pairs into the C-binding site abolished activation of the mom promoter in vivo. In vitro binding of C was not significantly affected by DNA methylation. A second, C-dependent promoter was identified just downstream of the C coding region; comparison with the mom promoter revealed common structural elements.
Transcription of the pyelonephritis-associated pilus (pap) operon of Escherichia coli is subject to regulation by a phase variation control mechanism in which the pap pilin gene alternates between transcriptionally active (phase-on) and inactive (phase-off) states. Pap phase variation appears to involve differential inhibition of deoxyadenosine methylase (Dam) methylation of two pap GATC sites, GATC1028 and GATC1130, located in the regulatory region upstream of the papBA promoter. DNA from phase-on cells contains an unmethylated adenosine in the GATC1028 site, whereas DNA from phase-off cells contains an unmethylated adenosine in the GATC1130 site. papI and papB are two regulatory genes in the pap operon. Analysis of pap deletion mutants suggests that papI is required for methylation inhibition at the GATC1028 site; however, neither papI nor papB is required for inhibition of methylation at the GATC1130 site. We have identified a chromosomal locus, mbf (methylation-blocking factor), that is required for methylation protection of both the pap GATC1028 and GATC1130 sites. The mbf locus was identified after transposon mTn10 mutagenesis and mapped to 19.6 min on the E. coli chromosome. The effect of transposon mutations within mbf on pap pilin transcription was determined by using a papBAp-lac operon fusion which places lacZ under control of the papBA promoter. E. coli containing mbf::mTn10 and phase-off mbf+ E. coli cells both expressed beta-galactosidase levels about 30-fold lower than the beta-galactosidase level measured for phase-on mbf+ E. coli cells. These results indicated that mbf was necessary for pap pilin transcription and were supported by Northern (RNA) blotting and primer extension analyses. Moreover, transposon insertion within mbf greatly reduced Pap pilus expression. The mbf locus was isolated on a low-copy-number cosmid, pMBF1. Complementation analysis indicated that each of seven mbf::mTn10 mutants isolated contained a transposon insertion within the same gene or operon. The identification of the mbf locus, required for pap transcription, supports the hypothesis that pap phase variation is controlled by a mechanism involving alternation between different methylation states.
In order to investigate its function in transcriptional gene silencing, the highly conserved motif 2 from A. thaliana Morpheus’ molecule 1 protein was expressed, purified and crystallized. X-ray diffraction analysis is reported to a resolution of 3.2 Å.
Of the known epigenetic control regulators found in plants, the Morpheus’ molecule 1 (MOM1) protein is atypical in that the deletion of MOM1 does not affect the level of epigenetic marks controlling the transcriptional status of the genome. A short 197-amino-acid fragment of the MOM1 protein sequence can complement MOM1 deletion when coupled to a nuclear localization signal, suggesting that this region contains a functional domain that compensates for the loss of the full-length protein. Numerous constructs centred on the highly conserved MOM1 motif 2 (CMM2) present in these 197 residues have been generated and expressed in Escherichia coli. Following purification and crystallization screening, diamond-shaped single crystals were obtained that diffracted to ∼3.2 Å resolution. They belonged to the trigonal space group P3121 (or P3221), with unit-cell parameters a = 85.64, c = 292.74 Å. Structure determination is ongoing.
Morpheus’ molecule 1; conserved MOM1 motif 2; coiled-coil domain; epigenetic; transcriptional gene silencing
Transcription of the bacteriophage Mu mom operon is strongly repressed by the host OxyR protein in dam - but not dam + cells. In this work we show that the extent of mom modification is sensitive to the relative levels of the Dam and OxyR proteins and OxyR appears to modulate the level of mom expression even in dam + cells. In vitro studies demonstrated that OxyR is capable of binding hemimethylated P mom , although its affinity is reduced slightly compared with unmethylated DNA. Thus, OxyR modulation of mom expression in dam + cells can be attributed to its ability to bind hemimethylated P mom DNA, the product of DNA replication.
Bacteria and bacteriophages have evolved DNA modification as a strategy to protect their genomes. Mom protein of bacteriophage Mu modifies the phage DNA, rendering it refractile to numerous restriction enzymes and in turn enabling the phage to successfully invade a variety of hosts. A strong fortification, a combined activity of the phage and host factors, prevents untimely expression of mom and associated toxic effects. Here, we identify the bacterial chromatin architectural protein Fis as an additional player in this crowded regulatory cascade. Both in vivo and in vitro studies described here indicate that Fis acts as a transcriptional repressor of mom promoter. Further, our data shows that Fis mediates its repressive effect by denying access to RNA polymerase at mom promoter. We propose that a combined repressive effect of Fis and previously characterized negative regulatory factors could be responsible to keep the gene silenced most of the time. We thus present a new facet of Fis function in Mu biology. In addition to bringing about overall downregulation of Mu genome, it also ensures silencing of the advantageous but potentially lethal mom gene.
The DNA of bacteriophage Mu, extracted from induced lysates, is partially resistant to digestion by the endonuclease BalI. This modification of DNA is controlled by the Mu modification function (mom), which acts in conjunction with the dam (DNA-adenine methylation) function of Escherichia coli. Since the BalI recognition site is apparently different from the dam recognition site, these results imply that either the specificity of the dam function is changed by the mom function or the mom function requires the dam function for its activity.
Late transcription of bacteriophage Mu, which results in the expression of phage morphogenetic functions, is dependent on Mu C protein. Earlier experiments indicated that Mu late RNAs originate from four promoters, including the previously characterized mom promoter. S1 nuclease protection experiments were used to map RNA 5' ends in the three new regions. Transcripts were initiated at these points only in the presence of C and were synthesized in a rightward direction on the Mu genome. Amber mutant marker rescue analysis of plasmid clones and limited DNA sequencing demonstrated that these new promoters are located between C and lys, upstream of I, and upstream of P within the N gene. A comparison of the promoter sequences upstream from the four RNA 5' ends yielded two conserved sequences: the first (tA . . cT, where capital and lowercase letters indicate 100 and 75% base conservation, respectively), at approximately -10, shares some similarity with the consensus Escherichia coli sigma 70 -10 region, while the second (ccATAAc CcCPuG/Cac, where Pu indicates a purine), in the -35 region, bears no resemblance to the E. coli -35 consensus. We propose that these conserved Mu late promoter consensus sequences are important for C-dependent promoter activity. Plasmids containing transcription fusions of these late promoters to lacZ exhibited C-dependent beta-galactosidase synthesis in vivo, and C was the only Mu product needed for this transactivation. As expected, the late promoter-lacZ fusions were activated only at late times after induction of a Mu prophage. The C-dependent activation of lacZ fusions containing only a few bases of the 5' end of Mu late RNA and the presence of altered promoter sequences imply that C acts at the level of transcription initiation.
Bacteriophage Mu DNA was labeled after induction in the presence of [2-3H]adenine or [8-3H]adenine. Both Mu mom+·dam+ DNA and Mu mom−·dam+ DNA have similar N6-methyladenine (MeAde) contents, as well as similar frequencies of MeAde nearest neighbors. Both DNAs are sensitive to in vitro cleavage by R·DpnI but resistant to cleavage by R·DpnII. These results indicate that the mom+ protein does not alter the sequence specificity of the host dam+ methylase to produce MeAde at new sites. However, we have discovered a new modified base, denoted Ax, in Mu mom+·dam+ DNA; approximately 15% of the adenine residues are modified to Ax. Although the precise nature of the modification is not yet defined, analysis by electrophoresis and chromatography indicates that the N6-amino group is not the site of modification, and that the added moiety contains a free carboxyl group. Ax is not present in Mu mom+·dam+ or Mu mom−·dam+ phage DNA or in cellular DNA from uninduced Mu mom+·dam+ lysogens. These results suggest that expression of the dam+ and mom+ genes are required for the Ax modification and that this modification is responsible for protecting Mu DNA against certain restriction nucleases. Mu mom+·dam− DNA and Mu mom−·dam− DNA contain a very low level of MeAde (ca. 1 MeAde per 5,000 adenine residues). Since the only nearest neighbor to MeAde appears to be cytosine, we suggest that the methylated sequence is 5′... C-A*-C... 3′ and that this methylation is mediated by the EcoK modification enzyme.
The phage Mu gene C encodes a 16.5-kDa site-specific DNA-binding protein that functions as a trans-activator of the four phage "late" operons, including mom. We have overexpressed and purified C and used it for DNase I footprinting and transcription analyses in vitro. The footprinting results are summarized as follows. (i) As shown previously (V. Balke, V. Nagaraja, T. Gindlesperger, and S. Hattman, Nucleic Acids Res. 12:2777-2784, 1992) in vivo, Escherichia coli RNA polymerase (RNAP) bound the wild-type (wt) mom promoter at a site slightly upstream from the functionally active site bound on the C-independent tin7 mutant promoter. (ii) In the presence of C, however, RNAP bound the wt promoter at the same site as tin7. (iii) C and RNAP were both bound by the mom promoter at overlapping sites, indicating that they were probably on different faces of the DNA helix. The minicircle system of Choy and Adhya (H. E. Choy and S. Adhya, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 90:472-476, 1993) was used to compare transcription in vitro from the wt and tin7 promoters. This analysis showed the following. (i) Few full-length transcripts were observed from the wt promoter in the absence of C, but addition of increasing amounts of C greatly stimulated transcription. (ii) RNA was transcribed from the tin7 promoter in the absence of C, but addition of C had a small stimulatory effect. (iii) Transcription from linearized minicircles or restriction fragment templates was greatly reduced (although still stimulated by C) with both the wt and tin7 promoters. These results show that C alone is capable of activating rightward transcription in vitro by promoting RNAP binding at a functionally active site. Additionally, DNA topology plays an important role in transcriptional activation in vitro.
Phase variation of the outer membrane protein Ag43 in E. coli requires deoxyadenosine methylase (Dam) and OxyR. Previously, it was shown that OxyR is required for repression of the Ag43-encoding gene, agn43, and that Dam-dependent methylation of three GATC target sequences in the regulatory region abrogates OxyR binding. Here we report further characterization of agn43 transcription and its regulation. Transcription was initiated from a σ70-dependent promoter at the G residue of the upstream GATC sequence. Template DNA and RNA polymerase were sufficient to obtain transcription in vitro, but DNA methylation enhanced the level of transcription. Analyses of transcription in vivo of agn′-lacZ with mutated Dam target sequences support this conclusion. Since methylation also abrogates OxyR binding, this indicates that methylation plays a dual role in facilitating agn43 transcription. In vitro transcription from an unmethylated template was repressed by OxyR(C199S), which resembles the reduced form of OxyR. Consistent with this and the role of Dam in OxyR binding, OxyR(C199S) protected from DNase I digestion the agn43 regulatory region from −16 to +42, which includes the three GATC sequences. Deletion analyses of the regulatory region showed that a 101-nucleotide region of the agn43 regulatory region containing the promoter and this OxyR binding region was sufficient for Dam- and OxyR-dependent phase variation
Arabidopsis MOM1 is required for the heritable maintenance of transcriptional gene silencing (TGS). Unlike many other silencing factors, depletion of MOM1 evokes transcription at selected loci without major changes in DNA methylation or histone modification. These loci retain unusual, bivalent chromatin properties, intermediate to both euchromatin and heterochromatin. The structure of MOM1 previously suggested an integral nuclear membrane protein with chromatin-remodeling and actin-binding activities. Unexpected results presented here challenge these presumed MOM1 activities and demonstrate that less than 13% of MOM1 sequence is necessary and sufficient for TGS maintenance. This active sequence encompasses a novel Conserved MOM1 Motif 2 (CMM2). The high conservation suggests that CMM2 has been the subject of strong evolutionary pressure. The replacement of Arabidopsis CMM2 by a poplar motif reveals its functional conservation. Interspecies comparison suggests that MOM1 proteins emerged at the origin of vascular plants through neo-functionalization of the ubiquitous eukaryotic CHD3 chromatin remodeling factors. Interestingly, despite the divergent evolution of CHD3 and MOM1, we observed functional cooperation in epigenetic control involving unrelated protein motifs and thus probably diverse mechanisms.
Epigenetic regulation of transcription usually involves changes in histone modifications, as well as DNA methylation changes in plants and mammals. Previously, we found an exceptional epigenetic regulator in Arabidopsis, MOM1, acting independently of these epigenetic marks. Interestingly, MOM1 controls loci associated with bivalent chromatin marks, intermediate to active euchromatin and silent heterochromatin. Such bivalent marks are often associated with newly inserted and/or potentially active transposons, silent transgenes, and certain chromosomal loci. Notably, bivalent chromatin seems to be characteristic for embryonic stem cells, where such loci change their activity and determination of epigenetic marks during cell differentiation. Here, we provide evidence that in vascular plants, the MOM1-like proteins evolved from the ubiquitous eukaryotic chromatin remodeling factor CHD3. The domains necessary for CHD3 function degenerated in MOM1, became dispensable for its gene silencing activity, and were replaced by a novel, unrelated domain providing silencing function. Therefore, MOM1-like proteins use a different silencing mechanism compared to the ancestral CHD3s. In spite of this divergent evolution, CHD3 and MOM1 seem to retain a functional cooperation in control of transcriptionally silent loci. Our results provide an unprecedented example of an evolutionary path for epigenetic components resulting in increased complexity of an epigenetic regulatory network characteristic for multicellular eukaryotes.
DNA adenine methylase (Dam−) mutants of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium contain reduced levels of FinP RNA encoded on the virulence plasmid. Dam methylation appears to regulate finP transcription, rather than FinP RNA stability or turnover. The finP promoter includes canonical −10 and −35 modules and depends on the σ70 factor. Regulation of finP transcription by Dam methylation does not require DNA sequences upstream from the −35 module, indicating that Dam acts at the promoter itself or downstream. Unexpectedly, a GATC site overlapping with the −10 module is likewise dispensable for Dam-mediated regulation. These observations indicate that Dam methylation regulates finP transcription indirectly and suggest the involvement of a host factor(s) responsive to the Dam methylation state of the cell. We provide evidence that one such factor is the nucleoid protein H-NS, which acts as a repressor of finP transcription in a Dam− background. H-NS also restrains transcription of the overlapping traJ gene, albeit in a Dam-independent fashion. Hence, the decreased FinP RNA content found in Dam− hosts of S. enterica appears to result from H-NS-mediated repression of finP transcription.
The C gene of bacteriophage Mu, required for transcription of the phage late genes, was localized by construction and analysis of a series of deleted derivatives of pKN50, a plasmid containing a 9.4 kb Mu DNA fragment which complements Mu C amber mutant phages for growth. One such deleted derivative, pWM10, containing only 0.5 kb of Mu DNA, complements C amber phages and transactivates the mom gene, one of the Mu late genes dependent on C for activation. The DNA sequence of the 0.5 kb fragment predicts a single long open reading frame coding for a 140 amino acid protein. Sequence analysis of DNA containing a C amber mutation located the base change to the second codon of this reading frame. Generation of a frameshift mutation by filling in a BglII site spanning codon 114 of this reading frame resulted in the loss of C complementation and transactivation activity. These results indicate that this open reading frame encodes the Mu C gene product. Comparison of the predicted amino acid sequence of the C protein with those of other transcriptional regulatory proteins revealed some similarity to a region highly conserved among bacterial sigma factors.
Expression of pyelonephritis-associated pili (Pap) varies between transcriptionally active (ON) and inactive (OFF) phase states. Pap phase variation is controlled by the binding of leucine-responsive regulatory protein (Lrp) to two pap regulatory DNA regions, each containing a deoxyadenosine methylase site and designated GATC-I and GATC-II. Methylation of these GATC sites modulates binding of Lrp and plays an essential role in phase variation. PapI, an 8.8-kDa pap-encoded regulatory protein, plays a key role in the switch between OFF and ON transcription states. In the absence of PapI, Lrp binds to sites overlapping the papBA promoter and inhibits transcription. Addition of PapI results in a translocation of Lrp binding to sites over 100 bp upstream, resulting in the ON transcription state. Gel shift analysis using radiolabeled PapI shows that PapI binds with high specificity to Lrp-pap DNA complexes but binds only weakly to free Lrp. Protein cross-linking studies indicate that Lrp and PapI directly interact with each other. On the basis of these data, we present a hypothesis in which PapI facilitates the transition between OFF and ON transcription states by binding to Lrp and altering Lrp's affinity for the pap GATC-I and GATC-II regions.
Like many eukaryotes, bacteria make widespread use of postreplicative DNA methylation for the epigenetic control of DNA-protein interactions. Unlike eukaryotes, however, bacteria use DNA adenine methylation (rather than DNA cytosine methylation) as an epigenetic signal. DNA adenine methylation plays roles in the virulence of diverse pathogens of humans and livestock animals, including pathogenic Escherichia coli, Salmonella, Vibrio, Yersinia, Haemophilus, and Brucella. In Alphaproteobacteria, methylation of adenine at GANTC sites by the CcrM methylase regulates the cell cycle and couples gene transcription to DNA replication. In Gammaproteobacteria, adenine methylation at GATC sites by the Dam methylase provides signals for DNA replication, chromosome segregation, mismatch repair, packaging of bacteriophage genomes, transposase activity, and regulation of gene expression. Transcriptional repression by Dam methylation appears to be more common than transcriptional activation. Certain promoters are active only during the hemimethylation interval that follows DNA replication; repression is restored when the newly synthesized DNA strand is methylated. In the E. coli genome, however, methylation of specific GATC sites can be blocked by cognate DNA binding proteins. Blockage of GATC methylation beyond cell division permits transmission of DNA methylation patterns to daughter cells and can give rise to distinct epigenetic states, each propagated by a positive feedback loop. Switching between alternative DNA methylation patterns can split clonal bacterial populations into epigenetic lineages in a manner reminiscent of eukaryotic cell differentiation. Inheritance of self-propagating DNA methylation patterns governs phase variation in the E. coli pap operon, the agn43 gene, and other loci encoding virulence-related cell surface functions.
The chromosomal locus mtr, which encodes low-level resistance to multiple antibacterial agents in Neisseria gonorrhoeae, is subject to phenotypic suppression by env mutations that increase the permeability of the envelope. We have identified a new locus, mom (for modifier of Mtr), which is located on the chromosome very close to penB and nmp, loci known to be linked to each other and to spc. Phenotypic suppression of Mtr was recognized by reductions of resistance to benzylpenicillin and also to oxacillin and the hydrophobic agents novobiocin and erythromycin. The resistance to each of these antibiotics returned to the Mtr levels in mom+ transformants isolated by selection for increased resistance to either novobiocin or erythromycin; the accompanying change of the outer membrane protein I seroreactions confirmed the proximity of nmp and mom. Thus, some mutant gonococci display wild-type antibiotic susceptibilities but can express multiple resistance following a mom+ mutation that releases the suppressed Mtr phenotype.
Transcription of the phage Mu com/mom operon is trans-activated by another phage gene product, C, a site-specific DNA binding protein. To gain insight into the mechanism by which C activates transcription, we carried out footprinting analyses of Escherichia coli RNA polymerase (= RNAP) binding to various com-lacZ fusion plasmids. KMnO4-sensitive sites (diagnostic of the melted regions in open-complexes) and DNase I-sensitive sites were located by primer-extension analysis. The results are summarized as follows: (i) in vivo, in the absence of C, RNAP bound in the wild-type (wt) promoter region at a site designated P2; in vitro DNase I-footprinting showed that P2 extends from -74 to -24 with respect to transcription initiation. This overlaps a known strong C-binding site (at -35 to -54). RNAP bound at P2 appeared to be in an open-complex, as evidenced by the presence of KMnO4-hypersensitive sites. (ii) In contrast, when C was present in vivo, RNAP bound in the wt promoter region at a different site, designated P1, located downstream and partially overlapping P2. RNAP bound at P1 also appeared to be in an open-complex, as evidenced by the presence of KMnO4-hypersensitive sites. (iii) Two C-independent mutants, which initiate transcription at the same position as the wt, were also analyzed. In vivo, in the absence of C, RNAP bound mutant tin7 (contains a T to G substitution at -14) predominantly at P1; in vitro DNase I-footprinting showed that P1 extends from -56 to +21. With mutant tin6 (a 63 base-pair deletion removing P2, as well as part of P1 and the C-binding site from -35 to -54), RNAP bound to P1 independent of C. We conclude that P1 is the 'functional' RNAP binding site for mom-transcription initiation, and that C activates transcription by promoting binding at P1, while blocking binding at P2.
Seven GATC sites that are nonmethylated in logarithmic growth phase cells using glycerol as a carbon source were isolated from the Escherichia coli chromosome. Three of these GATC sites are located upstream of the operons gut, mtl, and ppiA, whereas DNA sequences adjacent to three other nonmethylated GATC sites are not homologous to previously identified genes. The seventh nonmethylated GATC site is located downstream of uspA. The protection of this site from DNA methylation requires leucine-responsive regulatory protein and is leucine responsive. The carbon source and the growth phase influenced the protection of the GATC site 5' of the ppiA gene. The other five sites were protected under all the environmental conditions examined.
RNA-directed modification of histones is essential for maintenance of heterochromatin in higher eukaryotes. In plants, cytosine methylation, especially in non-CG sequence contexts, is tightly related to inactive chromatin, but the mechanisms regulating the coexistence of cytosine methylation and repressive histone modification remain obscure. We recently revealed that MORPHEUS' MOLECULE1 (MOM1) of Arabidopsis thaliana silences endogenous loci related to transposons and homologous to the 24-nt siRNAs accumulated in wild type plants, and suggested that MOM1 transduces RNA-directed DNA methylation (RdDM) signals to repressive histone modification. In this addendum, we focus on the involvement of MOM1 in multiple transcriptional gene silencing (TGS) pathways.
Arabidopsis thaliana; RNA-directed DNA methylation; histone modification; MORPHEUS' MOLECULE 1
Most of the adenine residues in GATC sequences in the Escherichia coli chromosome are methylated by the enzyme deoxyadenosine methyltransferase (Dam). However, at least 20 GATC sequences remain nonmethylated throughout the cell cycle. Here we examined how the DNA methylation patterns of GATC sequences within the regulatory regions of the pyelonephritis-associated pilus (pap) operon and the glucitol utilization (gut) operon were formed. The results obtained with an in vitro methylation protection assay showed that the addition of the leucine-responsive regulatory protein (Lrp) to pap DNA was sufficient to protect the two GATC sequences in the pap regulatory region, GATC-I and GATC-II, from methylation by Dam. This finding was consistent with previously published data showing that Lrp was essential for methylation protection of these DNA sites in vivo. Methylation protection also occurred at a GATC site (GATC-44.5) centered 44.5 bp upstream of the transcription start site of the gutABD operon. Two proteins, GutR and the catabolite gene activator protein (CAP), bound to DNA sites overlapping the GATC-44.5-containing region of the gutABD operon. GutR, an operon-specific repressor, was essential for methylation protection in vivo, and binding of GutR protected GATC-44.5 from methylation in vitro. In contrast, binding of CAP at a site overlapping GATC-44.5 did not protect this site from methylation. Mutational analyses indicated that gutABD gene regulation was not controlled by methylation of GATC-44.5, in contrast to regulation of Pap pilus expression, which is directly controlled by methylation of the pap GATC-I and GATC-II sites.
The mom gene of bacteriophage Mu encodes an enzyme that converts adenine to N6-(1-acetamido)-adenine in the phage DNA and thereby protects the viral genome from cleavage by a wide variety of restriction endonucleases. Mu-like prophage sequences present in Haemophilus influenzae Rd (FluMu), Neisseria meningitidis type A strain Z2491 (Pnme1) and H. influenzae biotype aegyptius ATCC 11116 do not possess a Mom-encoding gene. Instead, at the position occupied by mom in Mu they carry an unrelated gene that encodes a protein with homology to DNA adenine N6-methyltransferases (hin1523, nma1821, hia5, respectively). Products of the hin1523, hia5 and nma1821 genes modify adenine residues to N6-methyladenine, both in vitro and in vivo. All of these enzymes catalyzed extensive DNA methylation; most notably the Hia5 protein caused the methylation of 61% of the adenines in λ DNA. Kinetic analysis of oligonucleotide methylation suggests that all adenine residues in DNA, with the possible exception of poly(A)-tracts, constitute substrates for the Hia5 and Hin1523 enzymes. Their potential ‘sequence specificity’ could be summarized as AB or BA (where B = C, G or T). Plasmid DNA isolated from Escherichia coli cells overexpressing these novel DNA methyltransferases was resistant to cleavage by many restriction enzymes sensitive to adenine methylation.
The Escherichia coli DNA adenine methylase (dam) gene has been introduced into Saccharomyces cerevisiae on a yeast-E. coli shuttle vector. Sau3AI, MboI, and DpnI restriction enzyme digests and Southern hybridization analysis indicated that the dam gene is expressed in yeast cells and methylates GATC sequences. Analysis of digests of total genomic DNA indicated that some GATC sites are not sensitive to methylation. The failure to methylate may reflect an inaccessibility to the methylase due to chromosome structure. The effects of this in vivo methylation on the processes of recombination and mutation in mitotic cells were determined. A small but definite general increase was found in the frequency of mitotic recombination. A similar increase was observed for reversion of some auxotrophic markers; other markers demonstrated a small decrease in mutation frequency. The effects on mutation appear to be locus (or allele) specific. Recombination in meiotic cells was measured and was not detectably altered by the presence of 6-methyladenine in GATC sequences.
The mitochondrial outer membrane contains import receptors for preproteins and a multisubunit general insertion pore. Several small outer membrane proteins (< 10 kDa) have been identified by their association with receptors or the general insertion pore, yet little is known about their function. Here, we present evidence that the biochemically identified Mom8b and the genetically identified Isp6 are identical. A deletion of Mom8b/Isp6 in Saccharomyces cerevisiae leads to (i) a delay of import of preproteins, (ii) stabilization of preprotein binding to receptors and the general insertion pore, and (iii) destabilization of the interaction between receptors and the general insertion pore. These results suggest that Mom8b supports the cooperativity between receptors and the general insertion pore and facilitates the release of preproteins from import components and thereby promotes efficient transfer of preproteins.
An extended ENU screen for modifiers of transgene variegation identified four new modifiers, MommeD7-D10.
Some years ago we established an N-ethyl-N-nitrosourea screen for modifiers of transgene variegation in the mouse and a preliminary description of the first six mutant lines, named MommeD1-D6, has been published. We have reported the underlying genes in three cases: MommeD1 is a mutation in SMC hinge domain containing 1 (Smchd1), a novel modifier of epigenetic gene silencing; MommeD2 is a mutation in DNA methyltransferase 1 (Dnmt1); and MommeD4 is a mutation in Smarca 5 (Snf2h), a known chromatin remodeler. The identification of Dnmt1 and Smarca5 attest to the effectiveness of the screen design.
We have now extended the screen and have identified four new modifiers, MommeD7-D10. Here we show that all ten MommeDs link to unique sites in the genome, that homozygosity for the mutations is associated with severe developmental abnormalities and that heterozygosity results in phenotypic abnormalities and reduced reproductive fitness in some cases. In addition, we have now identified the underlying genes for MommeD5 and MommeD10. MommeD5 is a mutation in Hdac1, which encodes histone deacetylase 1, and MommeD10 is a mutation in Baz1b (also known as Williams syndrome transcription factor), which encodes a transcription factor containing a PHD-type zinc finger and a bromodomain. We show that reduction in the level of Baz1b in the mouse results in craniofacial features reminiscent of Williams syndrome.
These results demonstrate the importance of dosage-dependent epigenetic reprogramming in the development of the embryo and the power of the screen to provide mouse models to study this process.