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1.  The nucleoid-associated protein HUβ affects global gene expression in Porphyromonas gingivalis 
Microbiology  2013;159(Pt 2):219-229.
HU is a non-sequence-specific DNA-binding protein and one of the most abundant nucleoid-associated proteins in the bacterial cell. Like Escherichia coli, the genome of Porphyromonas gingivalis is predicted to encode both the HUα (PG1258) and the HUβ (PG0121) subunit. We have previously reported that PG0121 encodes a non-specific DNA-binding protein and that PG0121 is co-transcribed with the K-antigen capsule synthesis operon. We also reported that deletion of PG0121 resulted in downregulation of capsule operon expression and produced a P. gingivalis strain that is phenotypically deficient in surface polysaccharide production. Here, we show through complementation experiments in an E. coli MG1655 hupAB double mutant strain that PG0121 encodes a functional HU homologue. Microarray and quantitative RT-PCR analysis were used to further investigate global transcriptional regulation by HUβ using comparative expression profiling of the PG0121 (HUβ) mutant strain to the parent strain, W83. Our analysis determined that expression of genes encoding proteins involved in a variety of biological functions, including iron acquisition, cell division and translation, as well as a number of predicted nucleoid associated proteins were altered in the PG0121 mutant. Phenotypic and quantitative real-time-PCR (qRT-PCR) analyses determined that under iron-limiting growth conditions, cell division and viability were defective in the PG0121 mutant. Collectively, our studies show that PG0121 does indeed encode a functional HU homologue, and HUβ has global regulatory functions in P. gingivalis; it affects not only production of capsular polysaccharides but also expression of genes involved in basic functions, such as cell wall synthesis, cell division and iron uptake.
doi:10.1099/mic.0.061002-0
PMCID: PMC3709559  PMID: 23175503
2.  Structural Stability of Burkholderia cenocepacia Biofilms Is Reliant on eDNA Structure and Presence of a Bacterial Nucleic Acid Binding Protein 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e67629.
Cystic fibrosis (CF) is the most common lethal inherited genetic disorder affection Caucasians. Even with medical advances, CF is life-shortening with patients typically surviving only to age 38. Infection of the CF lung by Burkholderia cenocepacia presents exceptional challenges to medical management of these patients as clinically this microbe is resistant to virtually all antibiotics, is highly transmissible and infection of CF patients with this microbe renders them ineligible for lung transplant, often the last lifesaving option. Here we have targeted two abundant components of the B. cenocepacia biofilm for immune intervention: extracellular DNA and DNABII proteins, the latter of which are bacterial nucleic acid binding proteins. Treatment of B. cenocepacia biofilms with antiserum directed at one of these DNABII proteins (integration host factor or IHF) resulted in significant disruption of the biofilm. Moreover, when anti-IHF mediated destabilization of a B. cenocepacia biofilm was combined with exposure to traditional antibiotics, B. cenocepacia resident within the biofilm and thereby typically highly resistant to the action of antibiotics, were now rendered susceptible to killing. Pre-incubation of B. cenocepacia with anti-IHF serum prior to exposure to murine CF macrophages, which are normally unable to effectively degrade ingested B. cenocepacia, resulted in a statistically significant increase in killing of phagocytized B. cenocepacia. Collectively, these findings support further development of strategies that target DNABII proteins as a novel approach for treatment of CF patients, particularly those whose lungs are infected with B. cenocepacia.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0067629
PMCID: PMC3682984  PMID: 23799151
3.  Development of an Animal Model for Aggregatibacter Actinomycetemcomitans Biofilm-Mediated Oral Osteolytic Infection: A Preliminary Study 
Journal of periodontology  2011;82(5):778-789.
Background
Biofilm-induced inflammatory osteolytic oral infections, such as periodontitis and peri-implantitis, have complex etiology and pathogenesis. A significant obstacle to research has been the lack of appropriate animal models where the inflammatory response to biofilms can be investigated. The aim of this study is to develop a novel animal model to study the host response to Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans (previously Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans)–biofilm colonizing titanium implants.
Methods
Titanium implants were inoculated in vitro with A. actinomycetemcomitans, establishing a biofilm for 1 to 3 days. Biofilm-inoculated and control implants were transmucosally placed into rat hard palate or alveolar ridge. Analysis included documentation of clinical inflammation, polymerase chain reaction, and culture detection of A. actinomycetemcomitans and microcomputed tomography quantitation of peri-implant bone volume.
Results
Viable A. actinomycetemcomitans biofilm was successfully established on titanium implants in vitro, detected by confocal laser scanning microscopy. An inflammatory response characterized by clinical inflammation, bleeding, ulceration, hyperplasia, and necrosis was observed around biofilm-inoculated implants. A. actinomycetemcomitans was detected by polymerase chain reaction and culture analysis on 100%of biofilm-inoculated implants for up to 3 weeks and 25%for up to 6 weeks. Microcomputed tomography analysis demonstrated significantly lower bone volume (P <0.05) around biofilm-inoculated implants (29.6% ± 7.6%) compared to non-inoculated implants (50.5% ± 9.6%) after 6 weeks.
Conclusions
These results describe a novel animal model where A. actinomycetemcomitans biofilm was established in vitro on titanium implants before placement in rat oral cavity, leading to an inflammatory response, osteolysis, and tissue destruction. This model may have potential use for investigation of host responses to biofilm pathogens and antibiofilm therapy.
doi:10.1902/jop.2010.100263
PMCID: PMC3496747  PMID: 21222546
Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans; biofilms; dental implants; infection; models; animal; rats
4.  Oligomerization of the Response Regulator ComE from Streptococcus mutans Is Affected by Phosphorylation 
Journal of Bacteriology  2012;194(5):1127-1135.
We have previously characterized the interactions of the response regulator ComE from Streptococcus mutans and DNA binding sites through DNase I footprinting and electrophoretic mobility shift assay analysis. Since response regulator functions are often affected by their phosphorylation state, we investigated how phosphorylation affects the biochemical function of ComE. Unlike many response regulators, we found that the phosphorylation state of ComE does not likely play a role in DNA binding affinity but rather seems to induce the formation of an oligomeric form of the protein. The role of this oligomerization state for ComE function is discussed.
doi:10.1128/JB.06565-11
PMCID: PMC3294772  PMID: 22210762
5.  A Biochemical Analysis of the Interaction of Porphyromonas gingivalis HU PG0121 Protein with DNA 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e93266.
K-antigen capsule, a key virulence determinant of the oral pathogen Porphyromonas gingivalis, is synthesized by proteins encoded in a series of genes transcribed as a large polycistronic message. Previously, we identified a 77-base pair inverted repeat region with the potential to form a large stem-loop structure at the 5′ end of this locus. PG0121, one of two genes flanking the capsule operon, was found to be co-transcribed with the operon and to share high similarity to the DNA binding protein HU from Escherichia coli. A null mutation in PG0121 results in down-regulation of transcription of the capsule synthesis genes and production of capsule. Furthermore, we have also shown that PG0121 gene can complement multiple deficiencies in a strain of E. coli that is deficient for both the alpha and beta subunits of HU. Here, we examined the biochemical properties of the interaction of PG0121 to DNA with the emphasis on the kinds of nucleic acid architectures that may be encountered at the 77-bp inverted repeat. We have concluded that although some DNA binding characteristics are shared with E. coli HU, HU PG0121 also shows some distinct characteristics that set it apart from other HU-like proteins tested to date. We discuss our results in the context of how PG0121 may affect the regulation of the K-antigen capsule expression.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0093266
PMCID: PMC3969353  PMID: 24681691
6.  Characterization of DNA Binding Sites of the ComE Response Regulator from Streptococcus mutans▿† 
Journal of Bacteriology  2011;193(14):3642-3652.
In Streptococcus mutans, both competence and bacteriocin production are controlled by ComC and the ComED two-component signal transduction system. Recent studies of S. mutans suggested that purified ComE binds to two 11-bp direct repeats in the nlmC-comC promoter region, where ComE activates nlmC and represses comC. In this work, quantitative binding studies and DNase I footprinting analysis were performed to calculate the equilibrium dissociation constant and further characterize the binding site of ComE. We found that ComE protects sequences inclusive of both direct repeats, has an equilibrium dissociation constant in the nanomolar range, and binds to these two direct repeats cooperatively. Furthermore, similar direct repeats were found upstream of cslAB, comED, comX, ftf, vicRKX, gtfD, gtfB, gtfC, and gbpB. Quantitative binding studies were performed on each of these sequences and showed that only cslAB has a similar specificity and high affinity for ComE as that seen with the upstream region of comC. A mutational analysis of the binding sequences showed that ComE does not require both repeats to bind DNA with high affinity, suggesting that single site sequences in the genome may be targets for ComE-mediated regulation. Based on the mutational analysis and DNase I footprinting analysis, we propose a consensus ComE binding site, TCBTAAAYSGT.
doi:10.1128/JB.00155-11
PMCID: PMC3133340  PMID: 21602345
7.  Regulation of ciaXRH Operon Expression and Identification of the CiaR Regulon in Streptococcus mutans▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2010;192(18):4669-4679.
The ciaRH operon in Streptococcus mutans contains 3 contiguous genes, ciaXRH. Unlike the CiaRH system in other streptococci, only the ciaH-null mutant displays defective phenotypes, while the ciaR-null mutant behaves like the wild type. The objective of this study was to determine the mechanism of this unusual property. We demonstrate that the ciaH mutation caused a >20-fold increase in ciaR transcript synthesis. A ciaRH double deletion reversed the ciaH phenotype, suggesting that overexpressed ciaR might be responsible for the observed ciaH phenotypes. When ciaR was forced to be overexpressed by a transcriptional fusion to the ldh promoter in the wild-type background, the same ciaH phenotypes were restored, confirming the involvement of overexpressed ciaR in the ciaH phenotypes. The ciaH mutation and ciaR overexpression also caused transcriptional alterations in 100 genes, with 15 genes upregulated >5-fold. Bioinformatics analysis identified a putative CiaR regulon consisting of 8 genes/operons, including the ciaXRH operon itself, all of which were upregulated. In vitro footprinting on 4 of the 8 promoters revealed a protected region of 26 to 28 bp encompassing two direct repeats, NTTAAG-n5-WTTAAG, 10 bp upstream of the −10 region, indicating direct binding of the CiaR protein to these promoters. Taken together, we conclude that overexpressed CiaR, as a result of either ciaH deletion or forced expression from a constitutive promoter, is a mediator in the CiaH-regulated phenotypes.
doi:10.1128/JB.00556-10
PMCID: PMC2937423  PMID: 20639331
8.  Characterization of a Glutamate Transporter Operon, glnQHMP, in Streptococcus mutans and Its Role in Acid Tolerance▿ †  
Journal of Bacteriology  2009;192(4):984-993.
Glutamate contributes to the acid tolerance response (ATR) of many Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria, but its role in the ATR of the oral bacterium Streptococcus mutans is unknown. This study describes the discovery and characterization of a glutamate transporter operon designated glnQHMP (Smu.1519 to Smu.1522) and investigates its potential role in acid tolerance. Deletion of glnQHMP resulted in a 95% reduction in transport of radiolabeled glutamate compared to the wild-type UA159 strain. The addition of glutamate to metabolizing UA159 cells resulted in an increased production of acidic end products, whereas the glnQHMP mutant produced less lactic acid than UA159, suggesting a link between glutamate metabolism and acid production and possible acid tolerance. To investigate this possibility, we conducted a microarray analysis with glutamate and under pH 5.5 and pH 7.5 conditions which showed that expression of the glnQHMP operon was downregulated by both glutamate and mild acid. We also measured the growth kinetics of UA159 and its glnQHMP-negative derivative at pH 5.5 and found that the mutant doubled at a much slower rate than the parent strain but survived at pH 3.5 significantly better than the wild type. Taken together, these findings support the involvement of the glutamate transporter operon glnQHMP in the acid tolerance response in S. mutans.
doi:10.1128/JB.01169-09
PMCID: PMC2812961  PMID: 20023025
9.  Reciprocal Expression of Integration Host Factor and HU in the Developmental Cycle and Infectivity of Legionella pneumophila▿ †  
Legionella pneumophila is an intracellular parasite of protozoa that differentiates late in infection into metabolically dormant cysts that are highly infectious. Regulation of this process is poorly understood. Here we report that the small DNA binding regulatory proteins integration host factor (IHF) and HU are reciprocally expressed over the developmental cycle, with HU expressed during exponential phase and IHF expressed postexponentially. To assess the role of these regulatory proteins in development, chromosomal deletions were constructed. Single (ihfA or ihfB) and double deletion (Δihf) IHF mutants failed to grow in Acanthamoeba castellanii unless complemented in trans when expressed temporally from the ihfA promoter but not under Ptac (isopropyl-β-d-thiogalactopyranoside). In contrast, IHF mutants were infectious for HeLa cells, though electron microscopic examination revealed defects in late-stage cyst morphogenesis (thickened cell wall, intracytoplasmic membranes, and inclusions of poly-β-hydroxybutyrate), and were depressed for the developmental marker MagA. Green fluorescent protein promoter fusion assays indicated that IHF and the stationary-phase sigma factor RpoS were required for full postexponential expression of magA. Finally, defects in cyst morphogenesis noted for Δihf mutants in HeLa cells correlated with a loss of both detergent resistance and hyperinfectivity compared with results for wild-type cysts. These studies establish IHF and HU as markers of developmental stages and show that IHF function is required for both differentiation and full virulence of L. pneumophila in natural amoebic hosts.
doi:10.1128/AEM.02756-08
PMCID: PMC2663186  PMID: 19201975
10.  HMGA2 exhibits dRP/AP site cleavage activity and protects cancer cells from DNA-damage-induced cytotoxicity during chemotherapy 
Nucleic Acids Research  2009;37(13):4371-4384.
HMGA proteins are not translated in normal human somatic cells, but are present in high copy numbers in pluripotent embryonic stem cells and most neoplasias. Correlations between the degree of malignancy, patient prognostic index and HMGA levels have been firmly established. Intriguingly, HMGA2 is also found in rare tumor-inducing cells which are resistant to chemotherapy. Here, we demonstrate that HMGA1a/b and HMGA2 possess intrinsic dRP and AP site cleavage activities, and that lysines and arginines in the AT-hook DNA-binding domains function as nucleophiles. We also show that HMGA2 can be covalently trapped at genomic abasic sites in cancer cells. By employing a variety of cell-based assays, we provide evidence that the associated lyase activities promote cellular resistance against DNA damage that is targeted by base excision repair (BER) pathways, and that this protection directly correlates with the level of HMGA2 expression. In addition, we demonstrate an interaction between human AP endonuclease 1 and HMGA2 in cancer cells, which supports our conclusion that HMGA2 can be incorporated into the cellular BER machinery. Our study thus identifies an unexpected role for HMGA2 in DNA repair in cancer cells which has important clinical implications for disease diagnosis and therapy.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkp375
PMCID: PMC2715238  PMID: 19465398
12.  The response regulator ComE in Streptococcus mutans functions both as a transcription activator of mutacin production and repressor of CSP biosynthesis 
Microbiology (Reading, England)  2007;153(Pt 6):1799-1807.
In Streptococcus pneumoniae, competence and bacteriocin genes are controlled by two two-component systems, ComED and BlpRH, respectively. In Streptococcus mutans, both functions are controlled by the ComED system. Recent studies in S. mutans revealed a potential ComE binding site characterized by two 11 bp direct repeats shared by each of the bacteriocin genes responsive to the competence-stimulating peptide (CSP). Interestingly, this sequence was not found in the upstream region of the CSP structural gene comC. Since comC is suggested to be part of a CSP-responsive and ComE-dependent autoregulatory loop, it was of interest to determine how it was possible that the ComED system could simultaneously regulate bacteriocin expression and natural competence. Using the intergenic region IGS1499, shared by the CSP-responsive bacteriocin nlmC and comC, it was demonstrated that both genes are likely to be regulated by a bifunctional ComE. In a comE null mutant, comC gene expression was increased similarly to a fully induced wild-type. In contrast, nlmC gene expression was nearly abolished. Deletion of ComD exerted a similar effect on both genes to that observed with the comE null mutation. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays (EMSAs) with purified ComE revealed specific shift patterns dependent on the presence of one or both direct repeats in the nlmC–comC promoter region. The two direct repeats were also required for the promoter activity of both nlmC and comC. These results suggest that gene regulation of comC in S. mutans is fundamentally different from that reported for S. pneumoniae, which implicates a unique regulatory mechanism that allows the coordination of bacteriocin production with competence development.
doi:10.1099/mic.0.2007/005975-0
PMCID: PMC2062498  PMID: 17526837
13.  Escherichia coli HU protein has a role in the repair of abasic sites in DNA 
Nucleic Acids Research  2007;35(19):6672-6680.
HU is one of the most abundant DNA binding proteins in Escherichia coli. We find that it binds strongly to DNA containing an abasic (AP) site or tetrahydrofuran (THF) (apparent Kd ≈50 nM). It also possesses an AP lyase activity that cleaves at a deoxyribose but not at a THF residue. The binding and cleavage of an AP site was observed only with the HUαβ heterodimer. Site-specific mutations at K3 and R61 residues led to a change in substrate binding and cleavage. Both K3A(α)K3A(β) and R61A(α)R61A(β) mutant HU showed significant reduction in binding to DNA containing AP site; however, only R61A(α)R61A(β) mutant protein exhibited significant loss in AP lyase activity. Both K3A(α)K3A(β) and R61K(α)R61K(β) showed slight reduction in AP lyase activities. The function of HU protein as an AP lyase was confirmed by the ability of hupA or hupB mutations to further reduce the viability of an E. coli dut(Ts) xth mutant, which generates lethal AP sites at 37°C; the hupA and hupB derivatives, respectively, had a 6-fold and a 150-fold lower survival at 37°C than did the parental strain. These data suggest, therefore, that HU protein plays a significant role in the repair of AP sites in E. coli.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkm567
PMCID: PMC2095813  PMID: 17916578
14.  The Streptococcus mutans vicX Gene Product Modulates gtfB/C Expression, Biofilm Formation, Genetic Competence, and Oxidative Stress Tolerance▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2006;189(4):1451-1458.
Streptococcus mutans is considered one of the primary etiologic agents of dental caries. Previously, we characterized the VicRK two-component signal transduction system, which regulates multiple virulence factors of S. mutans. In this study, we focused on the vicX gene of the vicRKX tricistronic operon. To characterize vicX, we constructed a nonpolar deletion mutation in the vicX coding region in S. mutans UA159. The growth kinetics of the mutant (designated SmuvicX) showed that the doubling time was longer and that there was considerable sensitivity to paraquat-induced oxidative stress. Supplementing a culture of the wild-type UA159 strain with paraquat significantly increased the expression of vicX (P < 0.05, as determined by analysis of variance [ANOVA]), confirming the role of this gene in oxidative stress tolerance in S. mutans. Examination of mutant biofilms revealed architecturally altered cell clusters that were seemingly denser than the wild-type cell clusters. Interestingly, vicX-deficient cells grown in a glucose-supplemented medium exhibited significantly increased glucosyltransferase B/C (gtfB/C) expression compared with the expression in the wild type (P < 0.05, as determined by ANOVA). Moreover, a sucrose-dependent adhesion assay performed using an S. mutans GS5-derived vicX null mutant demonstrated that the adhesiveness of this mutant was enhanced compared with that of the parent strain and isogenic mutants of the parent strain lacking gtfB and/or gtfC. Also, disruption of vicX reduced the genetic transformability of the mutant approximately 10-fold compared with that of the parent strain (P < 0.05, as determined by ANOVA). Collectively, these findings provide insight into important phenotypes controlled by the vicX gene product that can impact S. mutans pathogenicity.
doi:10.1128/JB.01161-06
PMCID: PMC1797355  PMID: 17114248
15.  A VicRK Signal Transduction System in Streptococcus mutans Affects gtfBCD, gbpB, and ftf Expression, Biofilm Formation, and Genetic Competence Development 
Journal of Bacteriology  2005;187(12):4064-4076.
Bacteria exposed to transient host environments can elicit adaptive responses by triggering the differential expression of genes via two-component signal transduction systems. This study describes the vicRK signal transduction system in Streptococcus mutans. A vicK (putative histidine kinase) deletion mutant (SmuvicK) was isolated. However, a vicR (putative response regulator) null mutation was apparently lethal, since the only transformants isolated after attempted mutagenesis overexpressed all three genes in the vicRKX operon (Smuvic+). Compared with the wild-type UA159 strain, both mutants formed aberrant biofilms. Moreover, the vicK mutant biofilm formed in sucrose-supplemented medium was easily detachable relative to that of the parent. The rate of total dextran formation by this mutant was remarkably reduced compared to the wild type, whereas it was increased in Smuvic+. Based on real-time PCR, Smuvic+ showed increased gtfBCD, gbpB, and ftf expression, while a recombinant VicR fusion protein was shown to bind the promoter regions of the gtfB, gtfC, and ftf genes. Also, transformation efficiency in the presence or absence of the S. mutans competence-stimulating peptide was altered for the vic mutants. In vivo studies conducted using SmuvicK in a specific-pathogen-free rat model resulted in significantly increased smooth-surface dental plaque (Pearson-Filon statistic [PF], <0.001). While the absence of vicK did not alter the incidence of caries, a significant reduction in SmuvicK CFU counts was observed in plaque samples relative to that of the parent (PF, <0.001). Taken together, these findings support involvement of the vicRK signal transduction system in regulating several important physiological processes in S. mutans.
doi:10.1128/JB.187.12.4064-4076.2005
PMCID: PMC1151735  PMID: 15937169
16.  Mutation of luxS Affects Biofilm Formation in Streptococcus mutans  
Infection and Immunity  2003;71(4):1972-1979.
Quorum sensing is a bacterial mechanism for regulating gene expression in response to changes in population density. Many bacteria are capable of acyl-homoserine lactone-based or peptide-based intraspecies quorum sensing and luxS-dependent interspecies quorum sensing. While there is good evidence about the involvement of intraspecies quorum sensing in bacterial biofilm, little is known about the role of luxS in biofilm formation. In this study, we report for the first time that luxS-dependent quorum sensing is involved in biofilm formation of Streptococcus mutans. S. mutans is a major cariogenic bacterium in the multispecies bacterial biofilm commonly known as dental plaque. An ortholog of luxS for S. mutans was identified using the data available in the S. mutans genome project (http://www.genome.ou.edu/smutans.html). Using an assay developed for the detection of the LuxS-associated quorum sensing signal autoinducer 2 (AI-2), it was demonstrated that this ortholog was able to complement the luxS negative phenotype of Escherichia coli DH5α. It was also shown that AI-2 is indeed produced by S. mutans. AI-2 production is maximal during mid- to late-log growth in batch culture. Mutant strains devoid of the luxS gene were constructed and found to be defective in producing the AI-2 signal. There are also marked phenotypic differences between the wild type and the luxS mutants. Microscopic analysis of in vitro-grown biofilm structure revealed that the luxS mutant biofilms adopted a much more granular appearance, rather than the relatively smooth, confluent layer normally seen in the wild type. These results suggest that LuxS-dependent signal may play an important role in biofilm formation of S. mutans.
doi:10.1128/IAI.71.4.1972-1979.2003
PMCID: PMC152054  PMID: 12654815
17.  In Vitro Selection of Integration Host Factor Binding Sites 
Journal of Bacteriology  1999;181(10):3246-3255.
Integration host factor (IHF) is a bacterial protein that binds and severely bends a specific DNA target. IHF binding sites are approximately 30 to 35 bp long and are apparently divided into two domains. While the 3′ domain is conserved, the 5′ domain is degenerate but is typically AT rich. As a result of physical constraints that IHF must impose on DNA in order to bind, it is believed that this 5′ domain must possess structural characteristics conducive for both binding and bending with little regard for specific contacts between the protein and the DNA. We have examined the sequence requirements of the 5′ binding domain of the IHF binding target. Using a SELEX procedure, we randomized and selected variants of a natural IHF site. We then analyzed these variants to determine how the 5′ binding domain affects the structure, affinity, and function of an IHF-DNA complex in a native system. Despite finding individual sequences that varied over 100-fold in affinity for IHF, we found no apparent correlation between affinity and function.
PMCID: PMC93783  PMID: 10322029
18.  Mechanistic Insights Revealed by the Crystal Structure of a Histidine Kinase with Signal Transducer and Sensor Domains 
PLoS Biology  2013;11(2):e1001493.
A crystal structure reveals an elegant mechanistic switch whereby helical bending and catalytic domain rotation allow self-activation of a histidine kinase during a bacterial stress response.
Two-component systems (TCSs) are important for the adaptation and survival of bacteria and fungi under stress conditions. A TCS is often composed of a membrane-bound sensor histidine kinase (SK) and a response regulator (RR), which are relayed through sequential phosphorylation steps. However, the mechanism for how an SK is switched on in response to environmental stimuli remains obscure. Here, we report the crystal structure of a complete cytoplasmic portion of an SK, VicK from Streptococcus mutans. The overall structure of VicK is a long-rod dimer that anchors four connected domains: HAMP, Per-ARNT-SIM (PAS), DHp, and catalytic and ATP binding domain (CA). The HAMP, a signal transducer, and the PAS domain, major sensor, adopt canonical folds with dyad symmetry. In contrast, the dimer of the DHp and CA domains is asymmetric because of different helical bends in the DHp domain and spatial positions of the CA domains. Moreover, a conserved proline, which is adjacent to the phosphoryl acceptor histidine, contributes to helical bending, which is essential for the autokinase and phosphatase activities. Together, the elegant architecture of VicK with a signal transducer and sensor domain suggests a model where DHp helical bending and a CA swing movement are likely coordinated for autokinase activation.
Author Summary
Two-component signal transduction systems (TCSs) are promising targets for new antimicrobial research because they help bacteria and fungi adapt and survive. One of the main components of TCSs is a sensor histidine kinase (SK), which relays extracellular signals to intracellular pathways. Despite intensive research, a full-length structure of an SK has yet to be solved. In this study, we report the first crystal structure of the complete cytoplasmic region of VicK, an important SK in the tooth decay pathogen S. mutans. VicK is composed of several domains (HAMP, PAS, DHp, and catalytic and ATP binding domain [CA]) in addition to a short transmembrane domain. We find that the dimeric VicK protein has an elegant rod-shaped structure with the domains linearly connected like beads on a string. The structure suggests that VicK kinase activates itself by helical bending of the DHp domain and coordinated swinging around of the catalytic CA domain to engage with the target histidine. Structure-based mutagenesis experiments also helped us to identify key residues that are required for VicK's opposing phosphatase activity. Our studies of the multi-modular VicK protein suggest a sequential kinase activation model that may involve helical bending of the DHp domain and repositioning of the CA domains.
doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1001493
PMCID: PMC3582566  PMID: 23468592
19.  Aberrant Community Architecture and Attenuated Persistence of Uropathogenic Escherichia coli in the Absence of Individual IHF Subunits 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e48349.
Uropathogenic Escherichia coli (UPEC) utilizes a complex community-based developmental pathway for growth within superficial epithelial cells of the bladder during cystitis. Extracellular DNA (eDNA) is a common matrix component of organized bacterial communities. Integration host factor (IHF) is a heterodimeric protein that binds to double-stranded DNA and produces a hairpin bend. IHF-dependent DNA architectural changes act both intrabacterially and extrabacterially to regulate gene expression and community stability, respectively. We demonstrate that both IHF subunits are required for efficient colonization of the bladder, but are dispensable for early colonization of the kidney. The community architecture of the intracellular bacterial communities (IBCs) is quantitatively different in the absence of either IhfA or IhfB in the murine model for human urinary tract infection (UTI). Restoration of Type 1 pili by ectopic production does not restore colonization in the absence of IhfA, but partially compensates in the absence of IhfB. Furthermore, we describe a binding site for IHF that is upstream of the operon that encodes for the P-pilus. Taken together, these data suggest that both IHF and its constituent subunits (independent of the heterodimer), are able to participate in multiple aspects of the UPEC pathogenic lifestyle, and may have utility as a target for treatment of bacterial cystitis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0048349
PMCID: PMC3485042  PMID: 23133584

Results 1-19 (19)