AlgR is a key Pseudomonas aeruginosa transcriptional response regulator required for virulence. AlgR activates alginate production and twitching motility but represses the Rhl quorum-sensing (QS) system, including rhamnolipid production. The role of AlgR phosphorylation is enigmatic, since phosphorylated AlgR (AlgR-P) is required for twitching motility through the fimU promoter but is not required for the activation of alginate production. In order to examine the role of AlgR phosphorylation in vivo, a PAO1 algRD54E strain (with algR encoding a D-to-E change at position 54), which constitutively activates fimU transcription and exhibits twitching motility, was created. A corresponding PAO1 algRD54N strain (with algR encoding a D-to-N change at position 54) that does not activate fimU or twitching motility was compared to PAO1, PAO1 algRD54E, PAO1 ΔalgZ (deletion of the algZ [fimS] gene, encoding a putative histidine kinase), and PAO1 ΔalgR for swarming motility, rhamnolipid production, and rhlA transcription. PAO1 and PAO1 algRD54E produced approximately 2-fold-higher levels of rhamnolipids than PAO1 algRD54N and PAO1 ΔalgZ, thereby indicating that phosphorylated AlgR is required for normal rhamnolipid production. Examination of purified AlgR, AlgR-P, AlgR D54N, and AlgR D54E showed that AlgR-P and AlgR D54E bound preferentially to the fimU and rhlA promoters. Additionally, AlgR-P bound specifically to two sites within the rhlA promoter that were not bound by unphosphorylated AlgR. Taken together, these results indicate that phosphorylated AlgR-P has increased affinity for the rhlA promoter and is required for the coordinate activation of twitching motility, rhamnolipid production, and swarming motility in P. aeruginosa.
Our genetic information is tightly packaged into a rather ingenious nucleoprotein complex called chromatin in a manner that enables it to be rapidly accessed during genomic processes. Formation of the nucleosome, which is the fundamental unit of chromatin, occurs via a stepwise process that is reversed to enable the disassembly of nucleosomes. Histone chaperone proteins have prominent roles in facilitating these processes as well as in replacing old histones with new canonical histones or histone variants during the process of histone exchange. Recent structural, biophysical and biochemical studies have begun to shed light on the molecular mechanisms whereby histone chaperones promote chromatin assembly, disassembly and histone exchange to facilitate DNA replication, repair and transcription.
Obtaining quantities of highly pure duplex DNA is a bottleneck in the biophysical analysis of protein–DNA complexes. In traditional DNA purification methods, the individual cognate DNA strands are purified separately before annealing to form DNA duplexes. This approach works well for palindromic sequences, in which top and bottom strands are identical and duplex formation is typically complete. However, in cases where the DNA is non-palindromic, excess of single-stranded DNA must be removed through additional purification steps to prevent it from interfering in further experiments. Here we describe and apply a novel reversed-phase ion-pair liquid chromatography purification method for double-stranded DNA ranging in lengths from 17 to 51 bp. Both palindromic and non-palindromic DNA can be readily purified. This method has the unique ability to separate blunt double-stranded DNA from pre-attenuated (n-1, n-2, etc) synthesis products, and from DNA duplexes with single base pair overhangs. Additionally, palindromic DNA sequences with only minor differences in the central spacer sequence of the DNA can be separated, and the purified DNA is suitable for co-crystallization of protein–DNA complexes. Thus, double-stranded ion-pair liquid chromatography is a useful approach for duplex DNA purification for many applications.
Bacteria isolated from marine sponges, including the Silicibacter-Ruegeria (SR) subgroup of the Roseobacter clade, produce N-acylhomoserine lactone (AHL) quorum sensing signal molecules. This study is the first detailed analysis of AHL quorum sensing in sponge-associated bacteria, specifically Ruegeria sp. KLH11, from the sponge Mycale laxissima. Two pairs of luxR and luxI homologues and one solo luxI homologue were identified and designated ssaRI, ssbRI, and sscI (sponge-associated symbiont locus A, B, and C, luxRI or luxI homologue). SsaI produced predominantly long-chain 3-oxo-AHLs and both SsbI and SscI specified 3-OH-AHLs. Addition of exogenous AHLs to KLH11 increased the expression of ssaI but not ssaR, ssbI or ssbR, and genetic analyses revealed a complex interconnected arrangement between SsaRI and SsbRI systems. Interestingly, flagellar motility was abolished in the ssaI and ssaR mutants, with the flagellar biosynthesis genes under strict SsaRI control, and active motility only at high culture density. Conversely, ssaI and ssaR mutants formed more robust biofilms than wild type KLH11. AHLs and transcript of the ssaI gene were detected in M. laxissima extracts suggesting that AHL signaling contributes to the decision between motility and sessility and that it also may facilitate acclimation to different environments including the sponge host.
quorum sensing; acyl-homoserine lactones; LuxI-LuxR type regulation; sponge symbionts; motility; biofilm
Rho family GTPases control a diverse range of cellular processes, and their deregulation has been implicated in human cancer. Guanine nucleotide dissociation inhibitors (GDIs) bind and sequester GTPases in the cytosol, restricting their actions. RhoGDI2 is a member of the GDI family that acts as a metastasis suppressor in a variety of cancer types; however, very little is known about the regulation and function of this protein. Here we present a mechanism for inactivation of RhoGDI2 via PKC phosphorylation of Ser 31 in a region that contacts GTPases. In cells, RhoGDI2 becomes rapidly phosphorylated at Ser 31 in response to phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate stimulation. Based on the effects of pharmacological inhibitors and knockdown by siRNA, we determine that conventional type PKCα is responsible for this phosphorylation. Phospho-mimetic S31E-RhoGDI2 exhibits reduced binding to Rac1 relative to wild type, with a concomitant failure to reduce levels of activated endogenous Rac1 or remove Rac1 from membranes. These results reveal a mechanism of down-regulation of RhoGDI2 activity through PKC mediated phosphorylation of Ser 31. We hypothesize that this mechanism may serve to neutralize RhoGDI2 function in tumors that express RhoGDI2 and active PKCα.
RhoGDI2; phosphorylation; GTPase; PKCα
The central histone H3/H4 chaperone Asf1 comprises a highly conserved globular core and a
divergent C-terminal tail. While the function and structure of the Asf1 core are well
known, the function of the tail is less well understood. Here, we have explored the role
of the yeast (yAsf1) and human (hAsf1a and hAsf1b) Asf1 tails in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. We show, using a
photoreactive, unnatural amino acid, that Asf1 tail residue 210 cross-links to histone H3
in vivo and, further, that loss of C-terminal tail residues 211 to 279
weakens yAsf1-histone binding affinity in vitro nearly 200-fold. Via
several yAsf1 C-terminal truncations and yeast-human chimeric proteins, we found that
truncations at residue 210 increase transcriptional silencing and that the hAsf1a tail
partially substitutes for full-length yAsf1 with respect to silencing but that full-length
hAsf1b is a better overall substitute for full-length yAsf1. In addition, we show that the
C-terminal tail of Asf1 is phosphorylated at T270 in yeast. Loss of this phosphorylation
site does not prevent coimmunoprecipitation of yAsf1 and Rad53 from yeast extracts,
whereas amino acid residue substitutions at the Asf1-histone H3/H4 interface do. Finally,
we show that residue substitutions in yAsf1 near the CAF-1/HIRA interface also influence
yAsf1's function in silencing.
The eukaryotic processes of nucleosome assembly and disassembly govern chromatin dynamics, in which histones exchange in a highly regulated manner to promote genome accessibility for all DNA-dependent processes. This regulation is partly carried out by histone chaperones, which serve multifaceted roles in coordinating the interactions of histone proteins with modification enzymes, nucleosome remodelers, other histone chaperones, and nucleosomal DNA. The molecular details of the processes by which histone chaperones promote delivery of histones among their many functional partners are still largely undefined, but promise to offer insights into epigenome maintenance. Here we review recent findings on the histone chaperone interactions that guide the assembly of histones H3 and H4 into chromatin. This evidence supports the concepts of histone post-translational modifications and specific histone chaperone interactions as guiding principles for histone H3/H4 transactions during chromatin assembly.
The assembly and disassembly of chromatin impacts all DNA dependent processes in eukaryotes. These processes are intricately regulated through stepwise mechanisms, requiring multiple proteins, post-translational modifications and remodeling enzymes, as well as specific proteins to chaperone the highly basic and aggregation-prone histone proteins. The histone chaperones are acidic proteins that perform the latter function by maintaining the stability of the histones when they are not associated with DNA and guiding the deposition and removal of histones from DNA. Understanding the thermodynamics of these processes provides deeper insights into the mechanisms of chromatin assembly and disassembly. Here we describe complementary thermodynamic and biochemical approaches for analysis of the interactions of a major chaperone of the H3/H4 dimer, Anti-silencing function 1 (Asf1) with histones H3/H4 and DNA. Fluorescence quenching approaches are useful for measuring the binding affinity of Asf1 for histones H3/H4 under equilibrium conditions. Electrophoretic mobility shift analyses are useful for examining Asf1 mediated tetrasome (H3/H4-DNA) assembly and disassembly processes. These approaches potentially can be used more generally for the study of other histone chaperone-histone interactions and provide a means to dissect the role of post-translational modifications and other factors that participate in chromatin dynamics.
Anti-silencing function 1 (Asf1); histone H3/H4; tetrasome; binding affinity; fluorescence; electrophoretic mobility shift assay
One of the main obstacles in the development of a vaccine against Pseudomonas aeruginosa is the requirement that it is protective against a wide range of virulent strains. We have developed a synthetic-peptide consensus-sequence vaccine (Cs1) that targets the host receptor-binding domain (RBD) of the type IV pilus of P. aeruginosa. Here, we show that this vaccine provides increased protection against challenge by the four piliated strains that we have examined (PAK, PAO, KB7 and P1) in the A.BY/SnJ mouse model of acute P. aeruginosa infection. To further characterize the consensus sequence, we engineered Cs1 into the PAK monomeric pilin protein and determined the crystal structure of the chimeric Cs1 pilin to 1.35 Å resolution. The substitutions (T130K and E135P) used to create Cs1 do not disrupt the conserved backbone conformation of the pilin RBD. In fact, based on the Cs1 pilin structure, we hypothesize that the E135P substitution bolsters the conserved backbone conformation and may partially explain the immunological activity of Cs1. Structural analysis of Cs1, PAK and K122-4 pilins reveal substitutions of non-conserved residues in the RBD are compensated for by complementary changes in the rest of the pilin monomer. Thus, the interactions between the RBD and the rest of the pilin can either be mediated by polar interactions of a hydrogen bond network in some strains or by hydrophobic interactions in others. Both configurations maintain a conserved backbone conformation of the RBD. Thus, the backbone conformation is critical in our consensus-sequence vaccine design and that cross-reactivity of the antibody response may be modulated by the composition of exposed side-chains on the surface of the RBD. This structure will guide our future vaccine design by focusing our investigation on the four variable residue positions that are exposed on the RBD surface.
Anti-silencing function 1 (Asf1) and Chromatin Assembly Factor 1 (CAF-1) chaperone histones H3/H4 during the assembly of nucleosomes on newly replicated DNA. To understand the mechanism of histone H3/H4 transfer among Asf1, CAF-1 and DNA from a thermodynamic perspective, we developed and employed biophysical approaches using full-length proteins in the budding yeast system. We find that the C-terminal tail of Asf1 enhances the interaction of Asf1 with CAF-1. Surprisingly, although H3/H4 also enhances the interaction of Asf1 with the CAF-1 subunit Cac2, H3/H4 forms a tight complex with CAF-1 exclusive of Asf1, with an affinity weaker than Asf1–H3/H4 or H3/H4–DNA interactions. Unlike Asf1, monomeric CAF-1 binds to multiple H3/H4 dimers, which ultimately promotes the formation of (H3/H4)2 tetramers on DNA. Thus, transition of H3/H4 from the Asf1-associated dimer to the DNA-associated tetramer is promoted by CAF-1-induced H3/H4 oligomerization.
Quorum sensing plays a central role in regulating many community derived symbiotic and pathogenic relationships of bacteria, and as such has attracted much attention in recent years. Acyl-homoserine lactones (AHLs) are important signaling molecules in the quorum sensing gene regulatory processes found in numerous gram-negative species of bacteria that interact with eukaryotic organisms. AHLs are produced by acyl-homoserine lactone synthases. Bacteria can have multiple genes for AHL synthase enzymes, and such species are likely to produce several different types of AHLs. Determination of the types and the relative amounts of AHLs produced by AHL synthases in bacteria under varied conditions provides important insights into the mechanism of AHL synthase function and the regulation of transcriptional cascades initiated by quorum sensing signaling. This chapter describes a mass spectrometry method for determining the types and relative amounts of AHLs present in a sample.
acyl-homoserine lactone; AHL; quorum sensing; mass spectrometry; AHL synthase
The ubiquitous eukaryotic High-Mobility-Group-Box (HMGB) chromosomal proteins promote many chromatin-mediated cellular activities through their non-sequence-specific binding and bending of DNA. Minor groove DNA binding by the HMG box results in substantial DNA bending toward the major groove owing to electrostatic interactions, shape complementarity and DNA intercalation that occurs at two sites. Here, the structures of the complexes formed with DNA by a partially DNA intercalation-deficient mutant of Drosophila melanogaster HMGD have been determined by X-ray crystallography at a resolution of 2.85 Å. The six proteins and fifty base pairs of DNA in the crystal structure revealed a variety of bound conformations. All of the proteins bound in the minor groove, bridging DNA molecules, presumably because these DNA regions are easily deformed. The loss of the primary site of DNA intercalation decreased overall DNA bending and shape complementarity. However, DNA bending at the secondary site of intercalation was retained and most protein-DNA contacts were preserved. The mode of binding resembles the HMGB1-boxA-cisplatin-DNA complex, which also lacks a primary intercalating residue. This study provides new insights into the binding mechanisms used by HMG boxes to recognize varied DNA structures and sequences as well as modulate DNA structure and DNA bending.
Mitochondrial transcription factor A (mtTFA/TFAM) is a nucleus-encoded, high-mobility-group-box (HMG-box) protein that regulates transcription of the mitochondrial genome by specifically recognizing light-strand and heavy-strand promoters (LSP, HSP1). TFAM also binds mitochondrial DNA in a non-sequence specific (NSS) fashion and facilitates its packaging into nucleoid structures. However, the requirement and contribution of DNA-bending for these two different binding modes has not been addressed in detail, which prompted this comparison of binding and bending properties of TFAM on promoter and non-promoter DNA. Promoter DNA increased the stability of TFAM to a greater degree than non-promoter DNA. However, the thermodynamic properties of DNA binding for TFAM with promoter and non-specific (NS) DNA were similar to each other and to other NSS HMG-box proteins. Fluorescence resonance energy transfer assays showed that TFAM bends promoter DNA to a greater degree than NS DNA. In contrast, TFAM lacking the C-terminal tail distorted both promoter and non-promoter DNA to a significantly reduced degree, corresponding with markedly decreased transcriptional activation capacity at LSP and HSP1 in vitro. Thus, the enhanced bending of promoter DNA imparted by the C-terminal tail is a critical component of the ability of TFAM to activate promoter-specific initiation by the core mitochondrial transcription machinery.
The deposition of the histones H3/H4 onto DNA to give the tetrasome intermediate and the displacement of H3/H4 from DNA are thought to be the first and the last steps in nucleosome assembly and disassembly, respectively. Anti-silencing function 1 (Asf1) is a chaperone of the H3/H4 dimer that functions in both of these processes. However, little is known about the thermodynamics of chaperone–histone interactions or the direct role of Asf1 in the formation or disassembly of histone–DNA complexes. Here, we show that Saccharomyces cerevisiae Asf1 shields H3/H4 from unfavorable DNA interactions and aids the formation of favorable histone–DNA interactions through the formation of disomes. However, Asf1 was unable to disengage histones from DNA for tetrasomes formed with H3/H4 and strong nucleosome positioning DNA sequences or tetrasomes weakened by mutant (H3K56Q/H4) histones or non-positioning DNA sequences. Furthermore, Asf1 did not associate with preformed tetrasomes. These results are consistent with the measured affinity of Asf1 for H3/H4 dimers of 2.5 nM, which is weaker than the association of H3/H4 for DNA. These studies support a mechanism by which Asf1 aids H3/H4 deposition onto DNA but suggest that additional factors or post-translational modifications are required for Asf1 to remove H3/H4 from tetrasome intermediates in chromatin.
Asf1 is a highly conserved chaperone of histones H3/H4 that assembles or disassembles chromatin during transcription, replication, and repair. The structure of the globular domain of Asf1 bound to H3/H4 determined by X-ray crystallography to a resolution of 1.7 Å shows how Asf1 binds the H3/H4 heterodimer, enveloping the C-terminus of histone H3 and physically blocking formation of the H3/H4 heterotetramer. Unexpectedly, the C-terminus of histone H4 that forms a mini-beta sheet with histone H2A in the nucleosome, undergoes a major conformational change upon binding to Asf1 and adds a beta strand to the Asf1 beta-sheet sandwich. Interactions with both H3 and H4 were required for Asf1 histone chaperone function in vivo and in vitro. The Asf1-H3/H4 structure suggests a “strand-capture” mechanism whereby the H4 tail acts as a lever to facilitate chromatin disassembly / assembly that may be used ubiquitously by histone chaperones.
Acyl-homoserine lactone (acyl-HSL) quorum-sensing signaling is common to many Proteobacteria. Acyl-HSLs are synthesized by the LuxI family of synthases, and the signal response is mediated by members of the LuxR family of transcriptional regulators. Burkholderia thailandensis is a member of a closely related cluster of three species, including the animal pathogens Burkholderia mallei and Burkholderia pseudomallei. Members of this group have similar luxI and luxR homologs, and these genes contribute to B. pseudomallei and B. mallei virulence. B. thailandensis possesses three pairs of luxI-luxR homologs. One of these pairs, BtaI2-BtaR2, has been shown to produce and respond to 3OHC10-HSL and to control the synthesis of an antibiotic. By using a markerless-exhange method, we constructed an assortment of B. thailandensis quorum-sensing mutants, and we used these mutants to show that BtaI1 is responsible for C8-HSL production and BtaI3 is responsible for 3OHC8-HSL production. We also show that a strain incapable of acyl-HSL production is capable of growth on the same assortment of carbon and nitrogen sources as the wild type. Furthermore, this mutant shows no loss of virulence compared to the wild type in mice. However, the wild type self-aggregates in minimal medium, whereas the quorum-sensing mutant does not. The wild-type aggregation phenotype is recovered by addition of the BtaI1-R1 HSL signal C8-HSL. We propose that the key function of the BtaR1-BtaI1 quorum-sensing system is to cause cells to gather into aggregates once a sufficient population has been established.
The genome of Burkholderia thailandensis codes for several LuxR-LuxI quorum-sensing systems. We used B. thailandensis quorum-sensing deletion mutants and recombinant Escherichia coli to determine the nature of the signals produced by one of the systems, BtaR2-BtaI2, and to show that this system controls genes required for the synthesis of an antibiotic. BtaI2 is an acyl-homoserine lactone (acyl-HSL) synthase that produces two hydroxylated acyl-HSLs, N-3-hydroxy-decanoyl-HSL (3OHC10-HSL) and N-3-hydroxy-octanoyl-HSL (3OHC8-HSL). The btaI2 gene is positively regulated by BtaR2 in response to either 3OHC10-HSL or 3OHC8-HSL. The btaR2-btaI2 genes are located within clusters of genes with annotations that suggest they are involved in the synthesis of polyketide or peptide antibiotics. Stationary-phase cultures of wild-type B. thailandensis, but not a btaR2 mutant or a strain deficient in acyl-HSL synthesis, produced an antibiotic effective against gram-positive bacteria. Two of the putative antibiotic synthesis gene clusters require BtaR2 and either 3OHC10-HSL or 3OHC8-HSL for activation. This represents another example where antibiotic synthesis is controlled by quorum sensing, and it has implications for the evolutionary divergence of B. thailandensis and its close relatives Burkholderia pseudomallei and Burkholderia mallei.
The mitochondrial transcription factor A (mtTFA) is central to assembly and initiation of the mitochondrial transcription complex. Human mtTFA (h-mtTFA) is a dual high mobility group box (HMGB) protein that binds site-specifically to the mitochondrial genome and demarcates the promoters for recruitment of h-mtTFB1, h-mtTFB2 and the mitochondrial RNA polymerase. The stoichiometry of h-mtTFA was found to be a monomer in the absence of DNA, whereas it formed a dimer in the complex with the light strand promoter (LSP) DNA. Each of the HMG boxes and the C-terminal tail were evaluated for their ability to bind to the LSP DNA. Removal of the C-terminal tail only slightly decreased nonsequence specific DNA binding, and box A, but not box B, was capable of binding to the LSP DNA. The X-ray crystal structure of h-mtTFA box B, at 1.35 Å resolution, revealed the features of a noncanonical HMG box. Interactions of box B with other regions of h-mtTFA were observed. Together, these results provide an explanation for the unusual DNA-binding properties of box B and suggest possible roles for this domain in transcription complex assembly.
Burkholderia mallei has two acyl-homoserine lactone (acyl-HSL) signal generator-receptor pairs and two additional signal receptors, all of which contribute to virulence. We show that B. mallei produces N-3-hydroxy-octanoyl HSL (3OHC8-HSL) but a bmaI3 mutant does not. Recombinant Escherichia coli expressing BmaI3 produces hydroxylated acyl-HSLs, with 3OHC8-HSL being the most abundant compound. In recombinant E. coli, BmaR3 responds to 3OHC8-HSL but not to other acyl-HSLs. These data indicate that the signal for BmaR3-BmaI3 quorum sensing is 3OHC8-HSL.
The DNA binding domain (DBD) of nuclear hormone receptors contains a highly conserved globular domain and a less conserved carboxyl-terminal extension (CTE). Despite previous observations that the CTEs of some classes of nuclear receptors are structured and interact with DNA outside of the hexanucleotide hormone response element (HRE), there has been no evidence for such a CTE among the steroid receptors. We have determined the structure of the progesterone receptor (PR)-DBD-CTE DNA complex at a resolution of 2.5 Å, which revealed binding of the CTE to the minor groove flanking the HREs. Alanine substitutions of the interacting CTE residues reduced affinity for inverted repeat HREs separated by three nucleotides, and essentially abrogated binding to a single HRE. A highly compressed minor groove of the trinucleotide spacer and a novel dimerization interface were also observed. A PR binding site selection experiment revealed sequence preferences in the trinucleotide spacer and flanking DNA. These results, taken together, support the notion that sequences outside of the HREs influence the DNA binding affinity and specificity of steroid receptors.
The DNA-binding domain (DBD) of progesterone receptor (PR) is bipartite containing a zinc module core that interacts with progesterone response elements (PRE), and a short flexible carboxyl terminal extension (CTE) that interacts with the minor groove flanking the PRE. The chromosomal high-mobility group B proteins (HMGB), defined as DNA architectural proteins capable of bending DNA, also function as auxiliary factors that increase the DNA-binding affinity of PR and other steroid receptors by mechanisms that are not well defined. Here we show that the CTE of PR contains a specific binding site for HMGB that is required for stimulation of PR-PRE binding, whereas the DNA architectural properties of HMGB are dispensable. Specific PRE DNA inhibited HMGB binding to the CTE, indicating that DNA and HMGB–CTE interactions are mutually exclusive. Exogenous CTE peptide increased PR-binding affinity for PRE as did deletion of the CTE. In a PR-binding site selection assay, A/T sequences flanking the PRE were enriched by HMGB, indicating that PR DNA-binding specificity is also altered by HMGB. We conclude that a transient HMGB–CTE interaction alters a repressive conformation of the flexible CTE enabling it to bind to preferred sequences flanking the PRE.
Phenazine production by Pseudomonas fluorescens 2-79 and P. chlororaphis isolates 30-84 and PCL1391 is regulated by quorum sensing through the activator PhzR and acyl-homoserine lactones (acyl-HSLs) synthesized by PhzI. PhzI from P. fluorescens 2-79 produces five acyl-HSLs that include four 3-hydroxy species. Of these, N-(3-hydroxyhexanoyl)-HSL is the biologically relevant ligand for PhzR. The quorum-sensing systems of P. chlororaphis strains 30-84 and PCL1391 have been reported to produce and respond to N-(hexanoyl)-HSL. These differences were of interest since PhzI and PhzR of strain 2-79 share almost 90% sequence identity with orthologs from strains 30-84 and PCL1391. In this study, as assessed by thin-layer chromatography, the three strains produce almost identical complements of acyl-HSLs. The major species produced by P. chlororaphis 30-84 were identified by mass spectrometry as 3-OH-acyl-HSLs with chain lengths of 6, 8, and 10 carbons. Heterologous bacteria expressing cloned phzI from strain 30-84 produced the four 3-OH acyl-HSLs in amounts similar to those seen for the wild type. Strain 30-84, but not strain 2-79, also produced N-(butanoyl)-HSL. A second acyl-HSL synthase of strain 30-84, CsaI, is responsible for the synthesis of this short-chain signal. Strain 30-84 accumulated N-(3-OH-hexanoyl)-HSL to the highest levels, more than 100-fold greater than that of N-(hexanoyl)-HSL. In titration assays, PhzR30-84 responded to both N-(3-OH-hexanoyl)- and N-(hexanoyl)-HSL with equal sensitivities. However, only the 3-OH-hexanoyl signal is produced by strain 30-84 at levels high enough to activate PhzR. We conclude that strains 2-79, 30-84, and PCL1391 use N-(3-OH-hexanoyl)-HSL to activate PhzR.
Many gram-negative bacteria produce a specific set of N-acyl-l-homoserine-lactone (AHL) signaling molecules for the purpose of quorum sensing, which is a means of regulating coordinated gene expression in a cell-density-dependent manner. AHLs are produced from acylated acyl-carrier protein (acyl-ACP) and S-adenosyl-l-methionine by the AHL synthase enzyme. The appearance of specific AHLs is due in large part to the intrinsic specificity of the enzyme for subsets of acyl-ACP substrates. Structural studies of the Pantoea stewartii enzyme EsaI and AHL-sensitive bioassays revealed that threonine 140 in the acyl chain binding pocket directs the enzyme toward production of 3-oxo-homoserine lactones. Mass spectrometry was used to examine the range of AHL molecular species produced by AHL synthases under a variety of conditions. An AHL selective normal-phase chromatographic purification with addition of a deuterated AHL internal standard was followed by reverse-phase liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry in order to obtain estimates of the relative amounts of different AHLs from biological samples. The AHLs produced by wild-type and engineered EsaI and LasI AHL synthases show that intrinsic specificity and different cellular conditions influence the production of AHLs. The threonine at position 140 in EsaI is important for the preference for 3-oxo-acyl-ACPs, but the role of the equivalent threonine in LasI is less clear. In addition, LasI expressed in Escherichia coli produces a high proportion of unusual AHLs with acyl chains consisting of an odd number of carbons. Furthermore, these studies offer additional methods that will be useful for surveying and quantitating AHLs from different sources.
The acyl-homoserine lactone molecular species (AHLs) produced by the Yersinia pestis AHL synthase YspI were identified by biochemical and physical/chemical techniques. Bioassays of extracts from culture supernatants of the recombinant YspI and wild-type Yersinia pestis showed similar profiles of AHLs. Analysis by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry revealed that the predominant AHLs were N-3-oxooctanoyl-l-homoserine lactone and N-3-oxo-hexanoyl-l-homoserine lactone.