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1.  Enzymatic Synthesis of Bioinformatically Predicted Microcin C-Like Compounds Encoded by Diverse Bacteria 
mBio  2014;5(3):e01059-14.
ABSTRACT
The Trojan horse Escherichia coli antibiotic microcin C (McC) consists of a heptapeptide attached to adenosine through a phosphoramidate linkage. McC is synthesized by the MccB enzyme, which terminally adenylates the ribosomally synthesized heptapeptide precursor MccA. The peptide part is responsible for McC uptake; it is degraded inside the cell to release a toxic nonhydrolyzable aspartyl-adenylate. Bionformatic analysis reveals that diverse bacterial genomes encoding mccB homologues also contain adjacent short open reading frames that may encode MccA-like adenylation substrates. Using chemically synthesized predicted peptide substrates and recombinant cognate MccB protein homologs, adenylated products were obtained in vitro for predicted MccA peptide-MccB enzyme pairs from Helicobacter pylori, Streptococcus thermophilus, Lactococcus johnsonii, Bartonella washoensis, Yersinia pseudotuberculosis, and Synechococcus sp. Some adenylated products were shown to inhibit the growth of E. coli by targeting aspartyl-tRNA synthetase, the target of McC.
IMPORTANCE
Our results prove that McC-like adenylated peptides are widespread and are encoded by both Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria and by cyanobacteria, opening ways for analyses of physiological functions of these compounds and for creation of microcin C-like antibiotics targeting various bacteria.
doi:10.1128/mBio.01059-14
PMCID: PMC4010828  PMID: 24803518
2.  Pervasive generation of oppositely oriented spacers during CRISPR adaptation 
Nucleic Acids Research  2014;42(9):5907-5916.
During the process of prokaryotic CRISPR adaptation, a copy of a segment of foreign deoxyribonucleic acid referred to as protospacer is added to the CRISPR cassette and becomes a spacer. When a protospacer contains a neighboring target interference motif, the specific small CRISPR ribonucleic acid (crRNA) transcribed from expanded CRISPR cassette can protect a prokaryotic cell from virus infection or plasmid transformation and conjugation. We show that in Escherichia coli, a vast majority of plasmid protospacers generate spacers integrated in CRISPR cassette in two opposing orientations, leading to frequent appearance of complementary spacer pairs in a population of cells that underwent CRISPR adaptation. When a protospacer contains a spacer acquisition motif AAG, spacer orientation that generates functional protective crRNA is strongly preferred. All other protospacers give rise to spacers oriented in both ways at comparable frequencies. This phenomenon increases the repertoire of available spacers and should make it more likely that a protective crRNA is formed as a result of CRISPR adaptation.
doi:10.1093/nar/gku226
PMCID: PMC4027179  PMID: 24728991
3.  Type I-E CRISPR-Cas Systems Discriminate Target from Non-Target DNA through Base Pairing-Independent PAM Recognition 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(9):e1003742.
Discriminating self and non-self is a universal requirement of immune systems. Adaptive immune systems in prokaryotes are centered around repetitive loci called CRISPRs (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat), into which invader DNA fragments are incorporated. CRISPR transcripts are processed into small RNAs that guide CRISPR-associated (Cas) proteins to invading nucleic acids by complementary base pairing. However, to avoid autoimmunity it is essential that these RNA-guides exclusively target invading DNA and not complementary DNA sequences (i.e., self-sequences) located in the host's own CRISPR locus. Previous work on the Type III-A CRISPR system from Staphylococcus epidermidis has demonstrated that a portion of the CRISPR RNA-guide sequence is involved in self versus non-self discrimination. This self-avoidance mechanism relies on sensing base pairing between the RNA-guide and sequences flanking the target DNA. To determine if the RNA-guide participates in self versus non-self discrimination in the Type I-E system from Escherichia coli we altered base pairing potential between the RNA-guide and the flanks of DNA targets. Here we demonstrate that Type I-E systems discriminate self from non-self through a base pairing-independent mechanism that strictly relies on the recognition of four unchangeable PAM sequences. In addition, this work reveals that the first base pair between the guide RNA and the PAM nucleotide immediately flanking the target sequence can be disrupted without affecting the interference phenotype. Remarkably, this indicates that base pairing at this position is not involved in foreign DNA recognition. Results in this paper reveal that the Type I-E mechanism of avoiding self sequences and preventing autoimmunity is fundamentally different from that employed by Type III-A systems. We propose the exclusive targeting of PAM-flanked sequences to be termed a target versus non-target discrimination mechanism.
Author Summary
CRISPR loci and their associated genes form a diverse set of adaptive immune systems that are widespread among prokaryotes. In these systems, the CRISPR-associated genes (cas) encode for proteins that capture fragments of invading DNA and integrate these sequences between repeat sequences of the host's CRISPR locus. This information is used upon re-infection to degrade invader genomes. Storing invader sequences in host genomes necessitates a mechanism to differentiate between invader sequences on invader genomes and invader sequences on the host genome. CRISPR-Cas of Staphylococcus epidermidis (Type III-A system) is inhibited when invader sequences are flanked by repeat sequences, and this prevents targeting of the CRISPR locus on the host genome. Here we demonstrate that Escherichia coli CRISPR-Cas (Type I-E system) is not inhibited by repeat sequences. Instead, this system is specifically activated by the presence of bona fide Protospacer Adjacent Motifs (PAMs) in the target. PAMs are conserved sequences adjoining invader sequences on the invader genome, and these sequences are never adjacent to invader sequences within host CRISPR loci. PAM recognition is not affected by base pairing potential of the target with the crRNA. As such, the Type I-E system lacks the ability to specifically recognize self DNA.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1003742
PMCID: PMC3764190  PMID: 24039596
4.  Genome-Wide Screens: Novel Mechanisms in Colicin Import and Cytotoxicity 
Molecular microbiology  2009;73(4):571-585.
Only two new genes (fkpA and lepB) have been identified to be required for colicin cytotoxicity in the last twenty-five years. Genome-wide screening using the “Keio collection” to test sensitivity to colicins A, B, D, E1, E2, E3, E7 and N from groups A and B, allowed identification of novel genes affecting cytotoxicity and provided new information on mechanisms of action. The requirement of lipopolysaccharide for colN cytotoxicity resides specifically in the LPS inner-core and first glucose. ColA cytotoxicity is dependent on gmhB and rffT genes, which function in the biosynthesis of LPS and ECA. Of the tol genes that function in the cytoplasmic membrane translocon, colE1 requires tolA and tolR but not tolQ for activity. Pal, which interacts with the Tol network, is not required for cytotoxicity of group A colicins. Except for TolQRA, no cytoplasmic membrane protein is essential for cytotoxicity of group A colicins, implying that TolQRA provides the sole pathway for their insertion into/through the cytoplasmic membrane. The periplasmic protease that cleaves between the receptor and catalytic domains of colE7 was not identified, implying either that the responsible gene is essential for cell viability, or that more than one gene-product has the necessary proteolysis function.
doi:10.1111/j.1365-2958.2009.06788.x
PMCID: PMC3100173  PMID: 19650773
ASKA; BtuB; Keio; OmpF; translocon
6.  Escherichia coli Peptidase A, B, or N Can Process Translation Inhibitor Microcin C▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2008;190(7):2607-2610.
The heptapeptide-nucleotide microcin C (McC) targets aspartyl-tRNA synthetase. Upon its entry into a susceptible cell, McC is processed to release a nonhydrolyzable aspartyl-adenylate that inhibits aspartyl-tRNA synthetase, leading to the cessation of translation and cell growth. Here, we surveyed Escherichia coli cells with singly, doubly, and triply disrupted broad-specificity peptidase genes to show that any of three nonspecific oligopeptidases (PepA, PepB, or PepN) can effectively process McC. We also show that the rate-limiting step of McC processing in vitro is deformylation of the first methionine residue of McC.
doi:10.1128/JB.01956-07
PMCID: PMC2293190  PMID: 18223070
7.  Analysis of Promoter Targets for Escherichia coli Transcription Elongation Factor GreA In Vivo and In Vitro▿ †  
Journal of Bacteriology  2007;189(24):8772-8785.
Transcription elongation factor GreA induces nucleolytic activity of bacterial RNA polymerase (RNAP). In vitro, transcript cleavage by GreA contributes to transcription efficiency by (i) suppressing pauses and arrests, (ii) stimulating RNAP promoter escape, and (iii) enhancing transcription fidelity. However, it is unclear which of these functions is (are) most relevant in vivo. By comparing global gene expression profiles of Escherichia coli strains lacking Gre factors and strains expressing either the wild type (wt) or a functionally inactive GreA mutant, we identified genes that are potential targets of GreA action. Data analysis revealed that in the presence of chromosomally expressed GreA, 19 genes are upregulated; an additional 105 genes are activated upon overexpression of the wt but not the mutant GreA. Primer extension reactions with selected transcription units confirmed the gene array data. The most prominent stimulatory effect (threefold to about sixfold) of GreA was observed for genes of ribosomal protein operons and the tna operon, suggesting that transcript cleavage by GreA contributes to optimal expression levels of these genes in vivo. In vitro transcription assays indicated that the stimulatory effect of GreA upon the transcription of these genes is mostly due to increased RNAP recycling due to facilitated promoter escape. We propose that transcript cleavage during early stages of initiation is thus the main in vivo function of GreA. Surprisingly, the presence of the wt GreA also led to the decreased transcription of many genes. The mechanism of this effect is unknown and may be indirect.
doi:10.1128/JB.00911-07
PMCID: PMC2168603  PMID: 17766423
8.  The Escherichia coli Yej Transporter Is Required for the Uptake of Translation Inhibitor Microcin C▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2007;189(22):8361-8365.
Microcin C (McC), a peptide-nucleotide antibiotic, targets aspartyl-tRNA synthetase. By analyzing a random transposon library, we identified Escherichia coli mutants resistant to McC. Transposon insertions were localized to a single locus, yejABEF, which encodes components of a putative inner membrane ABC transporter. Analysis of site-specific mutants established that all four components of the transporter are required for McC sensitivity. Since aspartyl-tRNA synthetase in yej mutant extracts was fully sensitive to McC, we conclude that yej mutations interfere with McC uptake and that YejABEF is the only inner membrane transporter responsible for McC uptake in E. coli. Other substrates of YejABEF remain to be identified.
doi:10.1128/JB.01028-07
PMCID: PMC2168686  PMID: 17873039
9.  Construction of Escherichia coli K-12 in-frame, single-gene knockout mutants: the Keio collection 
Molecular Systems Biology  2006;2:2006.0008.
We have systematically made a set of precisely defined, single-gene deletions of all nonessential genes in Escherichia coli K-12. Open-reading frame coding regions were replaced with a kanamycin cassette flanked by FLP recognition target sites by using a one-step method for inactivation of chromosomal genes and primers designed to create in-frame deletions upon excision of the resistance cassette. Of 4288 genes targeted, mutants were obtained for 3985. To alleviate problems encountered in high-throughput studies, two independent mutants were saved for every deleted gene. These mutants—the ‘Keio collection'—provide a new resource not only for systematic analyses of unknown gene functions and gene regulatory networks but also for genome-wide testing of mutational effects in a common strain background, E. coli K-12 BW25113. We were unable to disrupt 303 genes, including 37 of unknown function, which are candidates for essential genes. Distribution is being handled via GenoBase (http://ecoli.aist-nara.ac.jp/).
doi:10.1038/msb4100050
PMCID: PMC1681482  PMID: 16738554
bacterial functional genomics; E. coli/gene; essential gene; knockout mutants; resources; systems biology

Results 1-9 (9)