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.
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.
The putative small terminase protein from the thermostable bacteriophage G20C has been produced, purified and crystallized.
The assembly of double-stranded DNA bacteriophages is dependent on a small terminase protein that normally plays two important roles. Firstly, the small terminase protein specifically recognizes viral DNA and recruits the large terminase protein, which makes the initial cut in the dsDNA. Secondly, once the complex of the small terminase, the large terminase and the DNA has docked to the portal protein, and DNA translocation into a preformed empty procapsid has begun, the small terminase modulates the ATPase activity of the large terminase. Here, the putative small terminase protein from the thermostable bacteriophage G20C, which infects the Gram-negative eubacterium Thermus thermophilus, has been produced, purified and crystallized. Size-exclusion chromatography–multi-angle laser light scattering data indicate that the protein forms oligomers containing nine subunits. Crystals diffracting to 2.8 Å resolution have been obtained. These belonged to space group P212121, with unit-cell parameters a = 94.31, b = 125.6, c = 162.8 Å. The self-rotation function and Matthews coefficient calculations are consistent with the presence of a nine-subunit oligomer in the asymmetric unit.
putative small terminase; Thermus thermophilus; bacteriophage G20C
Microcin C (McC) is heptapeptide-adenylate antibiotic produced by Escherichia coli strains carrying the mccABCDEF gene cluster encoding enzymes, in addition to the heptapeptide structural gene mccA, necessary for McC biosynthesis and self-immunity of the producing cell. The heptapeptide facilitates McC transport into susceptible cells, where it is processed releasing a non-hydrolyzable aminoacyl adenylate that inhibits an essential aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase. The self-immunity gene mccF encodes a specialized serine-peptidase that cleaves an amide bond connecting the peptidyl or aminoacyl moieties of, respectively, intact and processed McC with the nucleotidyl moiety. Most mccF orthologs from organisms other than E. coli are not linked to the McC biosynthesis gene cluster. Here, we show that a protein product of one such gene, MccF from Bacillus anthracis (BaMccF), is able to cleave intact and processed McC and we present a series of structures of this protein. Structural analysis of apo-BaMccF and its AMP-complex reveal specific features of MccF-like peptidases that allow them to interact with substrates containing nucleotidyl moieties. Sequence analyses and phylogenetic reconstructions suggest that several distinct subfamilies form the MccF clade of the large S66 family of bacterial serine peptidases. We show that various representatives of the MccF clade can specifically detoxify non-hydrolyzable aminoacyl adenylates differing in their aminoacyl moieties. We hypothesize that bacterial mccF genes serve as a source of bacterial antibiotic resistance.
MccF; serine peptidase; nucleophilic elbow; catalytic triad (Ser-His-Glu); substrate binding loop
RNA polymerase (RNAP) melts promoter DNA to form transcription-competent open promoter complex (RPo). Interaction of the RNAP σ subunit with non-template strand bases of a conserved −10 element (consensus sequence T−12A−11T−10A−9A−8T−7) is an important source of energy-driving localized promoter melting. Here, we used an RNAP molecular beacon assay to investigate interdependencies of RNAP interactions with −10 element nucleotides. The results reveal a strong cooperation between RNAP interactions with individual −10 element non-template strand nucleotides and indicate that recognition of the −10 element bases occurs only when free energy of the overall RNAP −10 element binding reaches a certain threshold level. The threshold-like mode of the −10 element recognition may be related to the energetic cost of attaining a conformation of the −10 element that is recognizable by RNAP. The RNAP interaction with T/A−12 base pair was found to be strongly stimulated by RNAP interactions with other −10 element bases and with promoter spacer between the −10 and −35 promoter elements. The data also indicate that unmelted −10 promoter element can impair RNAP interactions with promoter DNA upstream of the −11 position. We suggest that cooperativity and threshold effects are important factors guiding the dynamics and selectivity of RPo formation.
The prokaryotic CRISPR/Cas immune system is based on genomic loci that contain incorporated sequence tags from viruses and plasmids. Using small guide RNA molecules, these sequences act as a memory to reject returning invaders. Both the Cascade ribonucleoprotein complex and the Cas3 nuclease/helicase are required for CRISPR-interference in Escherichia coli, but it is unknown how natural target DNA molecules are recognized and neutralized by their combined action. Here we show that Cascade efficiently locates target sequences in negatively supercoiled DNA, but only if these are flanked by a Protospacer Adjacent Motif (PAM). PAM recognition by Cascade exclusively involves the crRNA-complementary DNA strand. After Cascade-mediated R-loop formation, the Cse1 subunit recruits Cas3, which catalyzes nicking of target DNA through its HD-nuclease domain. The target is then progressively unwound and cleaved by the joint ATP-dependent helicase activity and Mg2+-dependent HD-nuclease activity of Cas3, leading to complete target DNA degradation and invader neutralization.
Clostridium difficile is an emergent pathogen, and the most common cause of nosocomial diarrhea. In an effort to understand the role of small noncoding RNAs (sRNAs) in C. difficile physiology and pathogenesis, we used an in silico approach to identify 511 sRNA candidates in both intergenic and coding regions. In parallel, RNA–seq and differential 5′-end RNA–seq were used for global identification of C. difficile sRNAs and their transcriptional start sites at three different growth conditions (exponential growth phase, stationary phase, and starvation). This global experimental approach identified 251 putative regulatory sRNAs including 94 potential trans riboregulators located in intergenic regions, 91 cis-antisense RNAs, and 66 riboswitches. Expression of 35 sRNAs was confirmed by gene-specific experimental approaches. Some sRNAs, including an antisense RNA that may be involved in control of C. difficile autolytic activity, showed growth phase-dependent expression profiles. Expression of each of 16 predicted c-di-GMP-responsive riboswitches was observed, and experimental evidence for their regulatory role in coordinated control of motility and biofilm formation was obtained. Finally, we detected abundant sRNAs encoded by multiple C. difficile CRISPR loci. These RNAs may be important for C. difficile survival in bacteriophage-rich gut communities. Altogether, this first experimental genome-wide identification of C. difficile sRNAs provides a firm basis for future RNome characterization and identification of molecular mechanisms of sRNA–based regulation of gene expression in this emergent enteropathogen.
The emergent human pathogen Clostridium difficile is a major cause of nosocomial diarrhea associated with antibiotic therapy. During the last few years, severe forms of C. difficile infections became more frequent due to the emergence of hypervirulent isolates. Despite intensive studies, many questions regarding the mechanisms controlling C. difficile virulence remain unanswered. We hypothesized that C. difficile, a member of an ancient group of bacteria, might widely use ancestral RNA–based mechanisms to control its gene expression for better adaptation to host conditions. Indeed, using next-generation sequencing technology, we identified a great number and a large diversity of potential RNA regulators in this pathogen. We obtained experimental evidence for regulatory roles of a particular class of regulatory RNAs responding to c-di-GMP, a universal bacterial signaling molecule regulating motility, biofilm formation, and virulence. We also detected abundant small RNA products of recently discovered adaptive prokaryotic immunity CRISPR-Cas systems that might be important for C. difficile survival in gut communities. Our findings suggest that small RNA molecules may play a major role in regulatory processes during C. difficile infection cycle and as such are promising targets of new therapeutic strategies.
Escherichia coli phage phiEco32 encodes two proteins that bind to host RNA polymerase — gp79, a novel protein, and gp36, a distant homolog of σ70 family proteins. Here, we investigated the temporal pattern of phiEco32 and host gene expression during the infection. Host transcription shut-off and three distinct bacteriophage temporal gene classes – early, middle, and late – were revealed. A combination of bioinformatic and biochemical approaches allowed identification of phage promoters recognized by host RNA polymerase holoenzyme containing the σ70 factor. These promoters are located upstream of early phage genes. A combination of macroarray data, primer extension, and in vitro transcription analyses allowed identification of six promoters recognized by RNA polymerase holoenzyme containing gp36. These promoters are characterized by a single consensus element tAATGTAtA and are located upstream of the middle and late phage genes. Curiously, gp79, an inhibitor of host and early phage transcription by σ70-holoenzyme, activated transcription by the gp36-holoenzyme in vitro.
bacteriophage; genome; RNA polymerase; sigma factor; transcription regulation
Successful infection of Escherichia coli by bacteriophage T7 relies upon the transcription of the T7 genome by two different RNA polymerases (RNAps). The bacterial RNAp transcribes early T7 promoters, whereas middle and late T7 genes are transcribed by the T7 RNAp. Gp2, a T7-encoded transcription factor, is a 7 kDa product of an essential middle T7 gene 2, and is a potent inhibitor of the host RNAp. The essential biological role of Gp2 is to inhibit transcription of early T7 genes that fail to terminate efficiently in order to facilitate the coordinated usage of the T7 genome by both host and phage RNAps. Overexpression of the E. coli udk gene, which encodes a uridine/cytidine kinase, interferes with T7 infection. We demonstrate that overexpression of udk antagonizes Gp2 function in E. coli in the absence of T7 infection and thus independently of T7-encoded factors. It seems that overexpression of udk reduces Gp2 stability and functionality during T7 infection, which consequently results in inadequate inhibition of host RNAp and in the accumulation of early T7 transcripts. In other words, overexpression of udk mimics the absence of Gp2 during T7 infection. Our study suggests that the transcriptional regulation of the T7 genome is surprisingly complex and might potentially be affected at many levels by phage- and host-encoded factors.
The complete sequence of the 46,267 bp genome of the lytic bacteriophage tf specific to Pseudomonas putida PpG1 has been determined. The phage genome has two sets of convergently transcribed genes and 186 bp long direct terminal repeats. The overall genomic architecture of the tf phage is similar to that of the previously described Pseudomonas aeruginosa phages PaP3, LUZ24 and phiMR299-2, and 39 out of the 72 products of predicted tf open reading frames have orthologs in these phages. Accordingly, tf was classified as belonging to the LUZ24-like bacteriophage group. However, taking into account very low homology levels between tf DNA and that of the other phages, tf should be considered as an evolutionary divergent member of the group. Two distinguishing features not reported for other members of the group were found in the tf genome. Firstly, a unique end structure – a blunt right end and a 4-nucleotide 3′-protruding left end – was observed. Secondly, 14 single-chain interruptions (nicks) were found in the top strand of the tf DNA. All nicks were mapped within a consensus sequence 5′-TACT/RTGMC-3′. Two nicks were analyzed in detail and were shown to be present in more than 90% of the phage population. Although localized nicks were previously found only in the DNA of T5-like and phiKMV-like phages, it seems increasingly likely that this enigmatic structural feature is common to various other bacteriophages.
Nonhydrolyzable aminoacyl-adenylates that inhibit protein synthesis provide a promising route towards the development of novel antibiotics whose mechanism of action limits the appearance of bacterial drug resistance. The ‘Trojan horse’ antibiotic microcin C (McC) consists of a nonhydrolyzable aspartyl–adenylate that is efficiently imported into bacterial cells owing to a covalently attached peptide carrier. Once inside the cell, the carrier is removed by proteolytic processing to release a potent aspartyl tRNA synthetase inhibitor. The focus of this article is on the mechanism of biosynthesis of McC. We also examine the strategies utilized by McC-producing strains to overcome toxicity due to unwanted, premature processing of the drug. This article will discuss how McC biosynthesis can be systematically manipulated for the development of derivatives that will target the entire battery of aminoacyl tRNA synthetases in various bacteria.
acetyltransferase; aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase; microcin C; Trojan-horse inhibitors
E. coli T7 bacteriophage gp2 protein is a potent inhibitor of host RNA polymerase (RNAP). Gp2 inhibits formation of open promoter complex by binding to the β′ jaw, an RNAP domain that interacts with downstream promoter DNA. Here, we used an engineered promoter with an optimized sequence to obtain and characterize a specific promoter complex containing RNAP and gp2. In this complex, localized melting of promoter DNA is initiated but does not propagate to include the point of the transcription start. As a result, the complex is transcriptionally inactive. Using a highly sensitive RNAP beacon assay we performed quantitative real-time measurements of specific binding of the RNAP-gp2 complex to promoter DNA and various promoter fragments. In this way, the effect of gp2 on RNAP interaction with promoters was dissected. As expected, gp2 greatly decreased RNAP affinity to downstream promoter duplex. However, gp2 also inhibited RNAP binding to promoter fragments that lacked downstream promoter DNA that interacts with the β′ jaw. The inhibition was caused by gp2-mediated decrease of the RNAP binding affinity to template and non-template strand segments of the transcription bubble downstream of the −10 promoter element. The inhibition of RNAP interactions with single-stranded segments of the transcription bubble by gp2 is a novel effect, which may occur via allosteric mechanism that is set in motion by the gp2 binding to the β′ jaw.
RNA polymerase; transcription inhibition; T7 bacteriophage; open promoter complex; protein beacon assay
The Escherichia coli-infecting bacteriophage T7 encodes a 7 kDa protein, called Gp2, which is a potent inhibitor of the host RNA polymerase (RNAp). Gp2 is essential for T7 phage development. The interaction site for Gp2 on the E. coli RNAp is the β′ jaw domain, which is part of the DNA binding channel. The binding of Gp2 to the β′ jaw antagonizes several steps associated with interactions between the RNAp and promoter DNA, leading to inhibition of transcription at the open promoter complex formation step. In the structure of the complex formed between Gp2 and a fragment of the β′ jaw, amino acid residues in the β3 strand of Gp2 contribute to the primary interaction interface with the β′ jaw. The 7009 E. coli strain is resistant to T7 because it carries a charge reversal point mutation in the β′ jaw that prevents Gp2 binding. However, a T7 phage encoding a mutant form of Gp2, called Gp2β, which carries triple amino acid substitutions E24K, F27Y and R56C, can productively infect this strain. By studying the molecular basis of inhibition of RNAp from the 7009 strain by Gp2β, we provide several lines of evidence that the E24K and F27Y substitutions facilitate an interaction with RNAp when the primary interaction interface with the β′ jaw is compromised. The proposed additional interaction interface between RNAp and Gp2 may contribute to the multipronged mechanism of transcription inhibition by Gp2.
Transcription initiation complexes formed by bacterial RNA polymerases (RNAPs) exhibit dramatic species-specific differences in stability, leading to different strategies of transcription regulation. The molecular basis for this diversity is unclear. Promoter complexes formed by RNAP from Thermus aquaticus (Taq) are considerably less stable than Escherichia coli RNAP promoter complexes, particularly at temperatures below 37°C. Here, we used a fluorometric RNAP molecular beacon assay to discern partial RNAP-promoter interactions. We quantitatively compared the strength of E. coli and Taq RNAPs partial interactions with the −10, −35 and UP promoter elements; the TG motif of the extended −10 element; the discriminator and the downstream duplex promoter segments. We found that compared with Taq RNAP, E. coli RNAP has much higher affinity only to the UP element and the downstream promoter duplex. This result indicates that the difference in stability between E. coli and Taq promoter complexes is mainly determined by the differential strength of core RNAP–DNA contacts. We suggest that the relative weakness of Taq RNAP interactions with DNA downstream of the transcription start point is the major reason of low stability and temperature sensitivity of promoter complexes formed by this enzyme.
Capistruin, a ribosomally synthesized post-translationally modified peptide produced by Burkholderia thailandensis E264, efficiently inhibits growth of Burkholderia and closely related Pseudomonas strains. The functional target of capistruin is unknown. Capistruin is a threaded-lasso peptide (lariat peptide), comprising an N-terminal 9-amino-acid ring followed by a 10-amino-acid C-terminal tail that is threaded through the ring. The structure of capistruin is similar to that of microcin J25 (MccJ25), a threaded-lasso antibacterial peptide that is produced by some strains of Escherichia coli and targets DNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RNAP). Here, we show that capustruin, like MccJ25, inhibits wild-type E. coli RNAP but not mutant, MccJ25-resistant, E. coli RNAP. We show further that an E. coli strain resistant to MccJ25 due to a mutation in an RNAP subunit gene exhibits resistance to capistruin. The results indicate that the structural similarity of capistruin and MccJ25 reflects functional similarity and suggest that the functional target of capistruin, and possibly other threaded-lasso peptides, is bacterial RNAP.
lariat peptides; capistruin; microcin J25 (MccJ25); RNA polymerase; RNA polymerase inhibitor
The T7 phage-encoded small protein Gp2 is a non-DNA-binding transcription factor that interacts with the jaw domain of the Escherichia coli (Ec) RNA polymerase (RNAp) β′ subunit and inhibits transcriptionally proficient promoter-complex (RPo) formation. Here, we describe the high-resolution solution structure of the Gp2-Ec β′ jaw domain complex and show that Gp2 and DNA compete for binding to the β′ jaw domain. We reveal that efficient inhibition of RPo formation by Gp2 requires the amino-terminal σ70 domain region 1.1 (R1.1), and that Gp2 antagonizes the obligatory movement of R1.1 during RPo formation. We demonstrate that Gp2 inhibits RPo formation not just by steric occlusion of the RNAp-DNA interaction but also through long-range antagonistic effects on RNAp-promoter interactions around the RNAp active center that likely occur due to repositioning of R1.1 by Gp2. The inhibition of Ec RNAp by Gp2 thus defines a previously uncharacterized mechanism by which bacterial transcription is regulated by a viral factor.
► The structure of the T7 transcription factor Gp2-E. coli RNAp β′jaw domain complex is described ► Gp2 and DNA compete for overlapping interaction surface on the β′ jaw domain ► Gp2 requires σ70 region 1.1 to inhibit the E. coli RNAp efficiently ► Gp2 inhibits the obligatory displacement of σ70 region 1.1
Inhibition of bacterial transcription represents an effective and clinically validated anti-infective chemotherapeutic strategy. We describe the evolution of our approach to the streptolydigin class of antibiotics that target bacterial RNA polymerases (RNAPs). This effort resulted in the synthesis and biological evaluation of streptolydigin, streptolydiginone, streptolic acid and a series of new streptolydigin-based agents. Subsequent biochemical evaluation of RNAP inhibition demonstrated that the presence of both streptolic acid and tetramic acid subunits was required for activity of this class of antibiotics. In addition, we identified 10,11-dihydrostreptolydigin as a new RNAP-targeting agent, which was assembled with high synthetic efficiency of 15 steps in the longest linear sequence. Dihydrostreptolydigin inhibited three representative bacterial RNAPs and displayed in vitro antibacterial activity against S. salivarius. The overall increase in synthetic efficiency combined with substantial antibacterial activity of this fully synthetic antibiotic demonstrates the power of organic synthesis in enabling design and comprehensive in vitro pharmacological evaluation of new chemical agents that target bacterial transcription.
CRISPR/Cas (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats/CRISPR associated sequences) is a recently discovered prokaryotic defense system against foreign DNA, including viruses and plasmids. CRISPR cassette is transcribed as a continuous transcript (pre-crRNA), which is processed by Cas proteins into small RNA molecules (crRNAs) that are responsible for defense against invading viruses. Experiments in E. coli report that overexpression of cas genes generates a large number of crRNAs, from only few pre-crRNAs.
We here develop a minimal model of CRISPR processing, which we parameterize based on available experimental data. From the model, we show that the system can generate a large amount of crRNAs, based on only a small decrease in the amount of pre-crRNAs. The relationship between the decrease of pre-crRNAs and the increase of crRNAs corresponds to strong linear amplification. Interestingly, this strong amplification crucially depends on fast non-specific degradation of pre-crRNA by an unidentified nuclease. We show that overexpression of cas genes above a certain level does not result in further increase of crRNA, but that this saturation can be relieved if the rate of CRISPR transcription is increased. We furthermore show that a small increase of CRISPR transcription rate can substantially decrease the extent of cas gene activation necessary to achieve a desired amount of crRNA.
The simple mathematical model developed here is able to explain existing experimental observations on CRISPR transcript processing in Escherichia coli. The model shows that a competition between specific pre-crRNA processing and non-specific degradation determines the steady-state levels of crRNA and is responsible for strong linear amplification of crRNAs when cas genes are overexpressed. The model further shows how disappearance of only a few pre-crRNA molecules normally present in the cell can lead to a large (two orders of magnitude) increase of crRNAs upon cas overexpression. A crucial ingredient of this large increase is fast non-specific degradation by an unspecified nuclease, which suggests that a yet unidentified nuclease(s) is a major control element of CRISPR response. Transcriptional regulation may be another important control mechanism, as it can either increase the amount of generated pre-crRNA, or alter the level of cas gene activity.
This article was reviewed by Mikhail Gelfand, Eugene Koonin and L Aravind.
CRISPR/Cas; Transcript processing; Small RNA; CRISPR expression regulation; CRISPR/Cas response
Gp39, a small protein encoded by Thermus thermophilus phage P23–45, specifically binds the host RNA polymerase (RNAP) and inhibits transcription initiation. Here, we demonstrate that gp39 also acts as an antiterminator during transcription through intrinsic terminators. The antitermination activity of gp39 relies on its ability to suppress transcription pausing at poly(U) tracks. Gp39 also accelerates transcription elongation by decreasing RNAP pausing and backtracking but does not significantly affect the rates of catalysis of individual reactions in the RNAP active center. We mapped the RNAP-gp39 interaction site to the β flap, a domain that forms a part of the RNA exit channel and is also a likely target for λ phage antiterminator proteins Q and N, and for bacterial elongation factor NusA. However, in contrast to Q and N, gp39 does not depend on NusA or other auxiliary factors for its activity. To our knowledge, gp39 is the first characterized phage-encoded transcription factor that affects every step of the transcription cycle and suppresses transcription termination through its antipausing activity.
Regulation of gene expression during infection of the thermophilic bacterium Thermus thermophilus (T. th.) HB8 with the bacteriophage P23-45 was investigated. Macroarray analysis revealed host transcription shut-off and identified three temporal classes of phage genes: early, middle, and late. Primer extension experiments revealed that the 5′ ends of P23-45 early transcripts are preceded by a common sequence motif that likely defines early viral promoters. T. th. HB8 RNA polymerase (RNAP) recognizes middle and late phage promoters in vitro but does not recognize early promoters. In vivo experiments revealed the presence of rifampicin-resistant RNA polymerizing activity in infected cells responsible for early transcription. The product of the P23-45 early gene 64 shows a distant sequence similarity with the largest, catalytic subunits of multisubunit RNAPs and contains the conserved metal-binding motif that is diagnostic of these proteins. We hypothesize that ORF64 encodes rifampicin-resistant phage RNAP that recognizes early phage promoters. Affinity isolation of T. th. HB8 RNAP from P23-45-infected cells identified two phage-encoded proteins: gp39 and gp76, that bind the host RNAP and inhibit in vitro transcription from host promoters, but not from middle or late phage promoters, and may thus control the shift from host to viral gene expression during infection. To our knowledge, gp39 and gp76 are the first characterized bacterial RNAP-binding proteins encoded by a thermophilic phage.
Thermus thermophilus; thermophage; phage promoters; RNA polymerase; RNAP-binding proteins
Microcin C (McC), a natural antibacterial compound consisting of a heptapeptide attached to a modified adenosine, is actively taken up by the YejABEF transporter, after which it is processed by cellular aminopeptidases, releasing the nonhydrolyzable aminoacyl adenylate, an inhibitor of aspartyl-tRNA synthetase. McC analogues with variable length of the peptide moiety were synthesized and evaluated in order to characterize the substrate preferences of the YejABEF transporter. It was shown that a minimal peptide chain length of 6 amino acids and the presence of an N-terminal formyl-methionyl-arginyl sequence are required for transport.
All sequenced genomes of representatives of the Francisella genus contain two rpoA genes, which encode non-identical RNA polymerase (RNAP) subunits, α1 and α2. In all other bacteria studied to date, a dimer of identical α subunits initiates the assembly of the catalytically proficient RNAP core (subunit composition α2ββ'). Based on an observation that both α1 and α2 are incorporated into Francisella RNAP, Charity et al. (2007) previously suggested that up to four different species of RNAP core enzyme might form in the same Francisella cell.
By in vitro assembly from fully denatured state, we determined that both Francisella α subunits are required for efficient dimerization; no homodimer formation was detected. Bacterial two-hybrid system analysis likewise indicated strong interactions between the α1 and α2 N-terminal domains (NTDs, responsible for dimerization). NTDs of α2 did not interact detectably, while weak interaction between α1 NTDs was observed. This weak homotypic interaction may explain low-level transcription activity observed in in vitro RNAP reconstitution reactions containing Francisella large subunits (β', β) and α1. No activity was observed with RNAP reconstitution reactions containing α2, while robust transcription activity was detected in reactions containing α1 and α2. Phylogenetic analysis based on RpoA resulted in a tree compatible with standard bacterial taxonomy with both Francisella RpoA branches positioned within γ-proteobacteria. The observed phylogeny and analysis of constrained trees are compatible with Francisella lineage-specific rpoA duplication followed by acceleration of evolutionary rate and subfunctionalization.
The results strongly suggest that most Francisella RNAP contains α heterodimer with a minor subfraction possibly containing α1 homodimer. Comparative sequence analysis suggests that this heterodimer is oriented, in a sense that only one monomer, α1, interacts with the β subunit during the α2β RNAP subassembly formation. Most likely the two rpoA copies in Francisella have emerged through a lineage-specific duplication followed by subfunctionalization of interacting paralogs.
The success of a phage that infects a bacterial cell possessing a restriction-modification (R-M) system depends on the activities of the host methyltransferase and restriction endonuclease, and the number of susceptible sites in the phage genome. However, there is no model describing this dependency and linking it to observable parameters such as the fraction of surviving cells under excess phage, or probability of plating at low amount of phages. We model the phage infection of a cell with a R-M system as a pure birth process with a killing state. We calculate the transitional probabilities and the stationary distribution for this process. We generalize the model developed for a single cell to the case of multiple identical cells invaded by a Poisson-distributed number of phages. The R-M enzyme activities are assumed to be constant, time-dependent, or random. The obtained results are used to estimate the ratio of the methyltransferase and endonuclease activities from the observed fraction of surviving cells.
Enzyme activities ratio; pure birth process with killing; restriction endonuclease; methyltransferase
Bacteriophage T7 relies on its own RNA polymerase (RNAp) to transcribe its middle and late genes. Early genes, which include the viral RNAp gene, are transcribed by the host RNAp from three closely spaced strong promoters -- A1, A2, and A3. One middle T7 gene product, gp2, is a strong inhibitor of the host RNAp. Gp2 is essential and is required late in infection, during phage DNA packaging. Here, we explore the role of gp2 in controlling host RNAp transcription during T7 infection. We demonstrate that in the absence of gp2 early viral transcripts continue to accumulate throughout the infection. Decreasing transcription from early promoter A3 is sufficient to make gp2 dispensable for phage infection. Gp2 also becomes dispensable when an antiterminating element boxA, located downstream of early promoters, is deleted. The results thus suggest that antiterminated transcription by host RNAp from the A3 promoter is interfering with phage development and that the only essential role for gp2 is to prevent this transcription.
bacteriophage T7; RNA polymerase; RNA polymerase inhibitor; transcription regulation
CRISPR/Cas, bacterial and archaeal systems of interference with foreign genetic elements such as viruses or plasmids, consist of DNA loci called CRISPR cassettes (a set of variable spacers regularly separated by palindromic repeats) and associated cas genes. When a CRISPR spacer sequence exactly matches a sequence in a viral genome, the cell can become resistant to the virus. The CRISPR/Cas systems function through small RNAs originating from longer CRISPR cassette transcripts. While laboratory strains of Escherichia coli contain a functional CRISPR/Cas system (as judged by appearance of phage resistance at conditions of artificial co-overexpression of Cas genes and a CRISPR cassette engineered to target a λ phage), no natural phage resistance due to CRISPR system function was observed in this best-studied organism and no E. coli CRISPR spacer matches sequences of well-studied E. coli phages. To better understand the apparently “silent” E. coli CRISPR/Cas system, we systematically characterized processed transcripts from CRISPR cassettes. Using an engineered strain with genomically located spacer matching phage λ we show that endogenous levels of CRISPR cassette and cas genes expression allow only weak protection against infection with the phage. However, derepression of the CRISPR/Cas system by disruption of the hns gene leads to high level of protection.
The AsiA protein is a T4 bacteriophage early gene product that regulates transcription of host and viral genes. Monomeric AsiA binds tightly to the σ70 subunit of Escherichia coli RNA polymerase, thereby inhibiting transcription from bacterial promoters and phage early promoters and co-activating transcription from phage middle promoters. Results of structural studies have identified amino acids at the protomer-protomer interface in dimeric AsiA and at the monomeric AsiA-σ70 interface and demonstrated substantial overlap in the sets of residues that comprise each. Here we evaluate the contributions of individual interfacial amino acid side chains to protomer-protomer affinity in AsiA homodimers, to monomeric AsiA affinity for σ70, and to AsiA function in transcription. Sedimentation equilibrium, dynamic light scattering, electrophoretic mobility shift and transcription activity measurements were used to assess affinity and function of site-specific AsiA mutants. Alanine substitutions for solvent-inaccessible residues positioned centrally in the protomer-protomer interface of the AsiA homodimer – V14, I17, and I40 – resulted in the largest changes in free energy of dimer association, whereas alanine substitutions at other interfacial positions had little effect. These residues also contribute significantly to AsiA-dependent regulation of RNA polymerase activity, as do additional residues positioned at the periphery of the interface (K20 and F21). Notably, the relative contributions of a given amino acid side chain to RNA polymerase inhibition and activation (MotA-independent) by AsiA are very similar in most cases. The mainstay for intermolecular affinity and AsiA function appears to be I17. Our results define the core interfacial residues of AsiA, establish roles for many of the interfacial amino acids, are in agreement with the tenets underlying protein-protein interactions and interfaces, and will be beneficial for a general, comprehensive understanding of the mechanistic underpinnings of bacterial RNA polymerase regulation.