Restriction-modification (R-M) systems are ubiquitous and are often considered primitive immune systems in bacteria. Their diversity and prevalence across the prokaryotic kingdom are an indication of their success as a defense mechanism against invading genomes. However, their cellular defense function does not adequately explain the basis for their immaculate specificity in sequence recognition and nonuniform distribution, ranging from none to too many, in diverse species. The present review deals with new developments which provide insights into the roles of these enzymes in other aspects of cellular function. In this review, emphasis is placed on novel hypotheses and various findings that have not yet been dealt with in a critical review. Emerging studies indicate their role in various cellular processes other than host defense, virulence, and even controlling the rate of evolution of the organism. We also discuss how R-M systems could have successfully evolved and be involved in additional cellular portfolios, thereby increasing the relative fitness of their hosts in the population.
Bacteria use a number of small basic proteins for organization and compaction of their genomes. By their interaction with DNA, these nucleoid-associated proteins (NAPs) also influence gene expression. Rv3852, a NAP of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, is conserved among the pathogenic and slow-growing species of mycobacteria. Here, we show that the protein predominantly localizes in the cell membrane and that the carboxy-terminal region with the propensity to form a transmembrane helix is necessary for its membrane localization. The protein is involved in genome organization, and its ectopic expression in Mycobacterium smegmatis resulted in altered nucleoid morphology, defects in biofilm formation, sliding motility, and change in apolar lipid profile. We demonstrate its crucial role in regulating the expression of KasA, KasB, and GroEL1 proteins, which are in turn involved in controlling the surface phenotypes in mycobacteria.
Restriction enzyme KpnI is a HNH superfamily endonuclease requiring divalent metal ions for DNA cleavage but not for binding. The active site of KpnI can accommodate metal ions of different atomic radii for DNA cleavage. Although Mg2+ ion higher than 500 μM mediates promiscuous activity, Ca2+ suppresses the promiscuity and induces high cleavage fidelity. Here, we report that a conservative mutation of the metal-coordinating residue D148 to Glu results in the elimination of the Ca2+-mediated cleavage but imparting high cleavage fidelity with Mg2+. High cleavage fidelity of the mutant D148E is achieved through better discrimination of the target site at the binding and cleavage steps. Biochemical experiments and molecular dynamics simulations suggest that the mutation inhibits Ca2+-mediated cleavage activity by altering the geometry of the Ca2+-bound HNH active site. Although the D148E mutant reduces the specific activity of the enzyme, we identified a suppressor mutation that increases the turnover rate to restore the specific activity of the high fidelity mutant to the wild-type level. Our results show that active site plasticity in coordinating different metal ions is related to KpnI promiscuous activity, and tinkering the metal ion coordination is a plausible way to reduce promiscuous activity of metalloenzymes.
Bacterial DNA topoisomerase I (topoI) carries out relaxation of negatively supercoiled DNA through a series of orchestrated steps, DNA binding, cleavage, strand passage and religation. The N-terminal domain (NTD) of the type IA topoisomerases harbor DNA cleavage and religation activities, but the carboxyl terminal domain (CTD) is highly diverse. Most of these enzymes contain a varied number of Zn2+ finger motifs in the CTD. The Zn2+ finger motifs were found to be essential in Escherichia coli topoI but dispensable in the Thermotoga maritima enzyme. Although, the CTD of mycobacterial topoI lacks Zn2+ fingers, it is indispensable for the DNA relaxation activity of the enzyme. The divergent CTD harbors three stretches of basic amino acids needed for the strand passage step of the reaction as demonstrated by a new assay. We also show that the basic amino acids constitute an independent DNA-binding site apart from the NTD and assist the simultaneous binding of two molecules of DNA to the enzyme, as required during the catalytic step. Although the NTD binds to DNA in a site-specific fashion to carry out DNA cleavage and religation, the basic residues in CTD bind to non-scissile DNA in a sequence-independent manner to promote the crucial strand passage step during DNA relaxation. The loss of Zn2+ fingers from the mycobacterial topoI could be associated with Zn2+ export and homeostasis.
Topoisomerases (topos) maintain DNA topology and influence DNA transaction processes by catalysing relaxation, supercoiling and decatenation reactions. In the cellular milieu, division of labour between different topos ensures topological homeostasis and control of central processes. In Escherichia coli, DNA gyrase is the principal enzyme that carries out negative supercoiling, while topo IV catalyses decatenation, relaxation and unknotting. DNA gyrase apparently has the daunting task of undertaking both the enzyme functions in mycobacteria, where topo IV is absent. We have shown previously that mycobacterial DNA gyrase is an efficient decatenase. Here, we demonstrate that the strong decatenation property of the enzyme is due to its ability to capture two DNA segments in trans. Topo IV, a strong dedicated decatenase of E. coli, also captures two distinct DNA molecules in a similar manner. In contrast, E. coli DNA gyrase, which is a poor decatenase, does not appear to be able to hold two different DNA molecules in a stable complex. The binding of a second DNA molecule to GyrB/ParE is inhibited by ATP and the non-hydrolysable analogue, AMPPNP, and by the substitution of a prominent positively charged residue in the GyrB N-terminal cavity, suggesting that this binding represents a potential T-segment positioned in the cavity. Thus, after the GyrA/ParC mediated initial DNA capture, GyrB/ParE would bind efficiently to a second DNA in trans to form a T-segment prior to nucleotide binding and closure of the gate during decatenation.
Although sequencing of Mycobacterium tuberculosis genome lead to better understanding of transcription units and gene functions, interactions occurring during transcription initiation between RNA polymerase and promoters is yet to be elucidated. Different stages of transcription initiation include promoter specific binding of RNAP, isomerization, abortive initiation and promoter clearance. We have now analyzed these events with four promoters of M. tuberculosis viz. PgyrB1, PgyrR, PrrnPCL1 and PmetU. The promoters differed from each other in their rates of open complex formation, decay, promoter clearance and abortive transcription. The equilibrium binding and kinetic studies of various steps revealed distinct rate limiting events for each of the promoter, which also differed markedly in their characteristics from the respective promoters of Mycobacterium smegmatis. Surprisingly, the transcription at gyr promoter was enhanced in the presence of initiating nucleotides and decreased in the presence of alarmone, pppGpp, a pattern typically seen with rRNA promoters studied so far. The gyr promoter of M. smegmatis, on the other hand, was not subjected to pppGpp mediated regulation. The marked differences in the transcription initiation pathway seen with rrn and gyr promoters of M. smegmatis and M. tuberculosis suggest that such species specific differences in the regulation of expression of the crucial housekeeping genes could be one of the key determinants contributing to the differences in growth rate and lifestyle of the two organisms. Moreover, the distinct rate limiting steps during transcription initiation of each one of the promoters studied point at variations in their intracellular regulation.
Because of its essential nature, each step of transcription, viz., initiation, elongation, and termination, is subjected to elaborate regulation. A number of transcription factors modulate the rates of transcription at these different steps, and several inhibitors shut down the process. Many modulators, including small molecules and proteinaceous inhibitors, bind the RNA polymerase (RNAP) secondary channel to control transcription. We describe here the first small protein inhibitor of transcription in Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Rv3788 is a homolog of the Gre factors that binds near the secondary channel of RNAP to inhibit transcription. The factor also affected the action of guanosine pentaphosphate (pppGpp) on transcription and abrogated Gre action, indicating its function in the modulation of the catalytic center of RNAP. Although it has a Gre factor-like domain organization with the conserved acidic residues in the N terminus and retains interaction with RNAP, the factor did not show any transcript cleavage stimulatory activity. Unlike Rv3788, another Gre homolog from Mycobacterium smegmatis, MSMEG_6292 did not exhibit transcription-inhibitory activities, hinting at the importance of the former in influencing the lifestyle of M. tuberculosis.
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.
After initiation of transcription, a number of proteins participate during elongation and termination modifying the properties of the RNA polymerase (RNAP). Gre factors are one such group conserved across bacteria. They regulate transcription by projecting their N-terminal coiled-coil domain into the active center of RNAP through the secondary channel and stimulating hydrolysis of the newly synthesized RNA in backtracked elongation complexes. Rv1080c is a putative gre factor (MtbGre) in the genome of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The protein enhanced the efficiency of promoter clearance by lowering abortive transcription and also rescued arrested and paused elongation complexes on the GC rich mycobacterial template. Although MtbGre is similar in domain organization and shares key residues for catalysis and RNAP interaction with the Gre factors of Escherichia coli, it could not complement an E. coli gre deficient strain. Moreover, MtbGre failed to rescue E. coli RNAP stalled elongation complexes, indicating the importance of specific protein-protein interactions for transcript cleavage. Decrease in the level of MtbGre reduced the bacterial survival by several fold indicating its essential role in mycobacteria. Another Gre homolog, Rv3788 was not functional in transcript cleavage activity indicating that a single Gre is sufficient for efficient transcription of the M. tuberculosis genome.
Transcription coupled nucleotide excision repair (TC-NER) is involved in correcting UV-induced damage and other road-blocks encountered in the transcribed strand. Mutation frequency decline (Mfd) is a transcription repair coupling factor, involved in repair of template strand during transcription. Mfd from M. tuberculosis (MtbMfd) is 1234 amino-acids long harboring characteristic modules for different activities. Mtbmfd complemented Escherichia coli mfd (Ecomfd) deficient strain, enhanced survival of UV irradiated cells and increased the road-block repression in vivo. The protein exhibited ATPase activity, which was stimulated ∼1.5-fold in the presence of DNA. While the C-terminal domain (CTD) comprising amino acids 630 to 1234 showed ∼2-fold elevated ATPase activity than MtbMfd, the N-terminal domain (NTD) containing the first 433 amino acid residues was able to bind ATP but deficient in hydrolysis. Overexpression of NTD of MtbMfd led to growth defect and hypersensitivity to UV light. Deletion of 184 amino acids from the C-terminal end of MtbMfd (MfdΔC) increased the ATPase activity by ∼10-fold and correspondingly exhibited efficient translocation along DNA as compared to the MtbMfd and CTD. Surprisingly, MtbMfd was found to be distributed in monomer and hexamer forms both in vivo and in vitro and the monomer showed increased susceptibility to proteases compared to the hexamer. MfdΔC, on the other hand, was predominantly monomeric in solution implicating the extreme C-terminal region in oligomerization of the protein. Thus, although the MtbMfd resembles EcoMfd in many of its reaction characteristics, some of its hitherto unknown distinct properties hint at its species specific role in mycobacteria during transcription-coupled repair.
We present WebGeSTer DB, the largest database of intrinsic transcription terminators (http://pallab.serc.iisc.ernet.in/gester). The database comprises of a million terminators identified in 1060 bacterial genome sequences and 798 plasmids. Users can obtain both graphic and tabular results on putative terminators based on default or user-defined parameters. The results are arranged in different tiers to facilitate retrieval, as per the specific requirements. An interactive map has been incorporated to visualize the distribution of terminators across the whole genome. Analysis of the results, both at the whole-genome level and with respect to terminators downstream of specific genes, offers insight into the prevalence of canonical and non-canonical terminators across different phyla. The data in the database reinforce the paradigm that intrinsic termination is a conserved and efficient regulatory mechanism in bacteria. Our database is freely accessible.
The Mycobacterium leprae genome has less than 50% coding capacity and 1,133 pseudogenes. Preliminary evidence suggests that some pseudogenes are expressed. Therefore, defining pseudogene transcriptional and translational potentials of this genome should increase our understanding of their impact on M. leprae physiology.
Gene expression analysis identified transcripts from 49% of all M. leprae genes including 57% of all ORFs and 43% of all pseudogenes in the genome. Transcribed pseudogenes were randomly distributed throughout the chromosome. Factors resulting in pseudogene transcription included: 1) co-orientation of transcribed pseudogenes with transcribed ORFs within or exclusive of operon-like structures; 2) the paucity of intrinsic stem-loop transcriptional terminators between transcribed ORFs and downstream pseudogenes; and 3) predicted pseudogene promoters. Mechanisms for translational "silencing" of pseudogene transcripts included the lack of both translational start codons and strong Shine-Dalgarno (SD) sequences. Transcribed pseudogenes also contained multiple "in-frame" stop codons and high Ka/Ks ratios, compared to that of homologs in M. tuberculosis and ORFs in M. leprae. A pseudogene transcript containing an active promoter, strong SD site, a start codon, but containing two in frame stop codons yielded a protein product when expressed in E. coli.
Approximately half of M. leprae's transcriptome consists of inactive gene products consuming energy and resources without potential benefit to M. leprae. Presently it is unclear what additional detrimental affect(s) this large number of inactive mRNAs has on the functional capability of this organism. Translation of these pseudogenes may play an important role in overall energy consumption and resultant pathophysiological characteristics of M. leprae. However, this study also demonstrated that multiple translational "silencing" mechanisms are present, reducing additional energy and resource expenditure required for protein production from the vast majority of these transcripts.
We assign a function for a small protein, YacG encoded by Escherichia coli genome. The NMR structure of YacG shows the presence of an unusual zinc-finger motif. YacG was predicted to be a part of DNA gyrase interactome based on protein–protein interaction network. We demonstrate that YacG inhibits all the catalytic activities of DNA gyrase by preventing its DNA binding. Topoisomerase I and IV activities remain unaltered in the presence of YacG and its action appears to be restricted only to DNA gyrase. The inhibition of the enzyme activity is due to the binding of YacG to carboxyl terminal domain of GyrB. Overexpression of YacG results in growth inhibition and alteration in DNA topology due to uncontrolled inhibition of gyrase.
KpnI REase recognizes palindromic sequence, GGTAC↓C, and forms complex in the absence of divalent metal ions, but requires the ions for DNA cleavage. Unlike most other REases, R.KpnI shows promiscuous DNA cleavage in the presence of Mg2+. Surprisingly, Ca2+ suppresses the Mg2+-mediated promiscuous activity and induces high fidelity cleavage. To further analyze these unique features of the enzyme, we have carried out DNA binding and kinetic analysis. The metal ions which exhibit disparate pattern of DNA cleavage have no role in DNA recognition. The enzyme binds to both canonical and non-canonical DNA with comparable affinity irrespective of the metal ions used. Further, Ca2+-imparted exquisite specificity of the enzyme is at the level of DNA cleavage and not at the binding step. With the canonical oligonucleotides, the cleavage rate of the enzyme was comparable for both Mg2+- and Mn2+-mediated reactions and was about three times slower with Ca2+. The enzyme discriminates non-canonical sequences poorly from the canonical sequence in Mg2+-mediated reactions unlike any other Type II REases, accounting for the promiscuous behavior. R.KpnI, thus displays properties akin to that of typical Type II REases and also endonucleases with degenerate specificity in its DNA recognition and cleavage properties.
Glutamate racemase (MurI) catalyses the conversion of l-glutamate to d-glutamate, an important component of the bacterial cell wall. MurI from Escherichia coli inhibits DNA gyrase in presence of the peptidoglycan precursor. Amongst the two-glutamate racemases found in Bacillus subtilis, only one inhibits gyrase, in absence of the precursor. Mycobacterium tuberculosis has a single gene encoding glutamate racemase. Action of M.tuberculosis MurI on DNA gyrase activity has been examined and its mode of action elucidated. We demonstrate that mycobacterial MurI inhibits DNA gyrase activity, in addition to its precursor independent racemization function. The inhibition is not species-specific as E.coli gyrase is also inhibited but is enzyme-specific as topoisomerase I activity remains unaltered. The mechanism of inhibition is different from other well-known gyrase inhibitors. MurI binds to GyrA subunit of the enzyme leading to a decrease in DNA-binding of the holoenzyme. The sequestration of the gyrase by MurI results in inhibition of all reactions catalysed by DNA gyrase. MurI is thus not a typical potent inhibitor of DNA gyrase and instead its role could be in modulation of the gyrase activity.
DNA gyrase is a DNA topoisomerase indispensable for cellular functions in bacteria. We describe a novel, hitherto unknown, mechanism of specific inhibition of Mycobacterium smegmatis and Mycobacterium tuberculosis DNA gyrase by a monoclonal antibody (mAb). Binding of the mAb did not affect either GyrA–GyrB or gyrase–DNA interactions. More importantly, the ternary complex of gyrase–DNA–mAb retained the ATPase activity of the enzyme and was competent to catalyse DNA cleavage–religation reactions, implying a new mode of action different from other classes of gyrase inhibitors. DNA gyrase purified from fluoroquinolone-resistant strains of M.tuberculosis and M.smegmatis were inhibited by the mAb. The absence of cross-resistance of the drug-resistant enzymes from two different sources to the antibody-mediated inhibition corroborates the new mechanism of inhibition. We suggest that binding of the mAb in the proximity of the primary dimer interface region of GyrA in the heterotetrameric enzyme appears to block the release of the transported segment after strand passage, leading to enzyme inhibition. The specific inhibition of mycobacterial DNA gyrase with the mAb opens up new avenues for designing novel lead molecules for drug discovery and for probing gyrase mechanism.
The restriction endonuclease (REase) R.KpnI is an orthodox Type IIP enzyme, which binds to DNA in the absence of metal ions and cleaves the DNA sequence 5′-GGTAC^C-3′ in the presence of Mg2+ as shown generating 3′ four base overhangs. Bioinformatics analysis reveals that R.KpnI contains a ββα-Me-finger fold, which is characteristic of many HNH-superfamily endonucleases, including homing endonuclease I-HmuI, structure-specific T4 endonuclease VII, colicin E9, sequence non-specific Serratia nuclease and sequence-specific homing endonuclease I-PpoI. According to our homology model of R.KpnI, D148, H149 and Q175 correspond to the critical D, H and N or H residues of the HNH nucleases. Substitutions of these three conserved residues lead to the loss of the DNA cleavage activity by R.KpnI, confirming their importance. The mutant Q175E fails to bind DNA at the standard conditions, although the DNA binding and cleavage can be rescued at pH 6.0, indicating a role for Q175 in DNA binding and cleavage. Our study provides the first experimental evidence for a Type IIP REase that does not belong to the PD…D/EXK superfamily of nucleases, instead is a member of the HNH superfamily.
The molecular basis of the interaction of KpnI restriction endonuclease (REase) and the corresponding methyltransferase (MTase) at their cognate recognition sequence is investigated using a range of footprinting techniques. DNase I protection analysis with the REase reveals the protection of a 14–18 bp region encompassing the hexanucleotide recognition sequence. The MTase, in contrast, protects a larger region. KpnI REase contacts two adjacent guanine residues and the single adenine residue in both the strands within the recognition sequence 5′-GGTACC-3′, inferred by dimethylsulfate (DMS) protection, interference and missing nucleotide interference analysis. In contrast, KpnI MTase does not show elaborate base-specific contacts. Ethylation interference analysis also showed the differential interaction of REase and MTase with phosphate groups of three adjacent bases on both strands within the recognition sequence. The single thymine residue within the sequence is hyper- reactive to the permanganate oxidation, consistent with MTase-induced base flipping. The REase on the other hand does not show any major DNA distortion. The results demonstrate that the differences in the molecular interaction pattern of the two proteins at the same recognition sequence reflect the contrasting chemistry of DNA cleavage and methylation catalyzed by these two dissimilar enzymes, working in combination as constituents of a cellular defense strategy.
A nomenclature is described for restriction endonucleases, DNA methyltransferases, homing endonucleases and related genes and gene products. It provides explicit categories for the many different Type II enzymes now identified and provides a system for naming the putative genes found by sequence analysis of microbial genomes.
RNA is amongst the most labile macromolecules present in the cells. The steady-state levels of mRNA are regulated both at the stages of synthesis and degradation. Recent work in Escherichia coli suggests that controlling the rate of degradation is as important as the process of synthesis. The stability of mRNA is probably more important in slow- growing organisms like mycobacteria. Here, we present our analysis of the cis elements that determine the stability of the DNA gyrase message in Mycobacterium smegmatis. The message appears to be stabilised by a structure close to its 5′ end. The effect is especially pronounced in a nutrient-depleted state. These results largely parallel the model proposed in E.coli for mRNA degradation/ stability with subtle differences. Furthermore, these results suggest that the slow-growing organisms might use stable mRNAs as a method to reduce the load of transcription on the cell.
The two genes encoding DNA gyrase in Mycobacterium tuberculosis are present next to each other in the genome, with gyrB upstream of gyrA. We show that the primary transcript is dicistronic. However, in addition to the principal promoter, there are multiple weaker promoters that appear to fine-tune transcription. With these and other mycobacterial promoters, we propose consensus promoter sequences for two distinct sigma factors. In addition to this, the gyr genes in M. tuberculosis, as in other species, are subject to autoregulation, albeit with slower kinetics, probably reflecting the slower metabolism of the organism.
A secondary structure in the nascent RNA followed by a trail of U residues is believed to be necessary and sufficient to terminate transcription. Such structures represent an extremely economical mechanism of transcription termination since they function in the absence of any additional protein factors. We have developed a new algorithm, GeSTer, to identify putative terminators and analysed all available complete bacterial genomes. The algorithm classifies the structures into five classes. We find that potential secondary structure sequences are concentrated downstream of coding regions in most bacterial genomes. Interestingly, many of these structures are not followed by a discernible U-trail. However, irrespective of the nature of the trail sequence, the structures show a similar distribution, indicating that they serve the same purpose. In contrast, such a distribution is absent in archaeal genomes, indicating that they employ a distinct mechanism for transcription termination. The present algorithm represents the fastest and most accurate algorithm for identifying terminators in eubacterial genomes without being restricted by the classical Escherichia coli paradigm.
Mycobacterium smegmatis topoisomerase I has several distinctive features. The absence of the zinc finger motif found in other prokaryotic type I topoisomerases and the ability of the enzyme to recognise single-stranded and duplex DNA are unique characteristics of the enzyme. We have mapped the strong topoisomerase sites of the enzyme on genomic DNA sequences from Mycobacterium tuberculosis and M.smegmatis. The enzyme does not nick DNA in random fashion and DNA cleavage occurred at a few specific sites. Mapping of these sites revealed conservation of a pentanucleotide motif CG/TCT↓T at the cleavage site (↓ represents the cleavage site). The enzyme binds and cleaves consensus oligonucleotides having this sequence motif. The protein exhibits a very high preference for C or a G residue at the +2 position with respect to the cleavage site. Based on earlier and the present studies we propose that the enzyme functions in vivo mainly at these specific sites to carry out topological reactions.