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1.  The DivJ, CbrA and PleC system controls DivK phosphorylation and symbiosis in Sinorhizobium meliloti 
Molecular microbiology  2013;90(1):54-71.
SUMMARY
Sinorhizobium meliloti is a soil bacterium that invades the root nodules it induces on Medicago sativa, whereupon it undergoes an alteration of its cell cycle and differentiates into nitrogen-fixing, elongated and polyploid bacteroid with higher membrane permeability. In Caulobacter crescentus, a related alphaproteobacterium, the principal cell cycle regulator, CtrA, is inhibited by the phosphorylated response regulator DivK. The phosphorylation of DivK depends on the histidine kinase DivJ, while PleC is the principal phosphatase for DivK. Despite the importance of the DivJ in C. crescentus, the mechanistic role of this kinase has never been elucidated in other Alphaproteobacteria.
We show here that the histidine kinases DivJ together with CbrA and PleC participate in a complex phosphorylation system of the essential response regulator DivK in S. meliloti. In particular, DivJ and CbrA are involved in DivK phosphorylation and in turn CtrA inactivation, thereby controlling correct cell cycle progression and the integrity of the cell envelope. In contrast, the essential PleC presumably acts as a phosphatase of DivK. Interestingly, we found that a DivJ mutant is able to elicit nodules and enter plant cells, but fails to establish an effective symbiosis suggesting that proper envelope and/or low CtrA levels are required for symbiosis.
doi:10.1111/mmi.12347
PMCID: PMC3793127  PMID: 23909720
2.  DNA Binding of the Cell Cycle Transcriptional Regulator GcrA Depends on N6-Adenosine Methylation in Caulobacter crescentus and Other Alphaproteobacteria 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(5):e1003541.
Several regulators are involved in the control of cell cycle progression in the bacterial model system Caulobacter crescentus, which divides asymmetrically into a vegetative G1-phase (swarmer) cell and a replicative S-phase (stalked) cell. Here we report a novel functional interaction between the enigmatic cell cycle regulator GcrA and the N6-adenosine methyltransferase CcrM, both highly conserved proteins among Alphaproteobacteria, that are activated early and at the end of S-phase, respectively. As no direct biochemical and regulatory relationship between GcrA and CcrM were known, we used a combination of ChIP (chromatin-immunoprecipitation), biochemical and biophysical experimentation, and genetics to show that GcrA is a dimeric DNA–binding protein that preferentially targets promoters harbouring CcrM methylation sites. After tracing CcrM-dependent N6-methyl-adenosine promoter marks at a genome-wide scale, we show that these marks recruit GcrA in vitro and in vivo. Moreover, we found that, in the presence of a methylated target, GcrA recruits the RNA polymerase to the promoter, consistent with its role in transcriptional activation. Since methylation-dependent DNA binding is also observed with GcrA orthologs from other Alphaproteobacteria, we conclude that GcrA is the founding member of a new and conserved class of transcriptional regulators that function as molecular effectors of a methylation-dependent (non-heritable) epigenetic switch that regulates gene expression during the cell cycle.
Author Summary
Methylation of genomic DNA at a specific regulatory site can impact a myriad of processes in eukaryotic cells. In bacteria, methylation at the N6 position of adenosine (m6A) is known to mediate a non-adaptive immunity response to protect cells from foreign DNA. While m6A marks are not known to govern expression of cell cycle genes in Gammaproteobacteria, cell cycle transcription in the model alphaproteobacterium Caulobacter crescentus requires the m6A methyltransferase CcrM that introduces m6A marks at GAnTC sequences and the enigmatic factor GcrA. Investigating if a functional and biochemical relationship exists between CcrM and GcrA, we found that CcrM-dependent m6A marks recruit GcrA to the promoters of cell cycle genes in vitro and in vivo and is required for efficient transcription. GcrA interacts with RNA polymerase, explaining how cell cycle transcription is affected. Importantly, m6A-dependent binding is also seen in GcrA orthologs, indicating that this transcriptional regulatory mechanism by CcrM and GcrA is conserved in Alphaproteobacteria.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1003541
PMCID: PMC3667746  PMID: 23737758
3.  The Level of Ets-1 Protein Is Regulated by Poly(ADP-Ribose) Polymerase-1 (PARP-1) in Cancer Cells to Prevent DNA Damage 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e55883.
Ets-1 is a transcription factor that regulates many genes involved in cancer progression and in tumour invasion. It is a poor prognostic marker for breast, lung, colorectal and ovary carcinomas. Here, we identified poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase-1 (PARP-1) as a novel interaction partner of Ets-1. We show that Ets-1 activates, by direct interaction, the catalytic activity of PARP-1 and is then poly(ADP-ribosyl)ated in a DNA-independent manner. The catalytic inhibition of PARP-1 enhanced Ets-1 transcriptional activity and caused its massive accumulation in cell nuclei. Ets-1 expression was correlated with an increase in DNA damage when PARP-1 was inhibited, leading to cancer cell death. Moreover, PARP-1 inhibitors caused only Ets-1-expressing cells to accumulate DNA damage. These results provide new insight into Ets-1 regulation in cancer cells and its link with DNA repair proteins. Furthermore, our findings suggest that PARP-1 inhibitors would be useful in a new therapeutic strategy that specifically targets Ets-1-expressing tumours.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0055883
PMCID: PMC3566071  PMID: 23405229
4.  Structural insights into ChpT, an essential dimeric histidine phosphotransferase regulating the cell cycle in Caulobacter crescentus  
The cell-cycle regulator ChpT of C. crescentus is a dimeric histidine phosphotransferase that resembles the typical structure of histidine kinases.
Two-component and phosphorelay signal-transduction proteins are crucial for bacterial cell-cycle regulation in Caulobacter crescentus. ChpT is an essential histidine phosphotransferase that controls the activity of the master cell-cycle regulator CtrA by phosphorylation. Here, the 2.2 Å resolution crystal structure of ChpT is reported. ChpT is a homodimer and adopts the domain architecture of the intracellular part of class I histidine kinases. Each subunit consists of two distinct domains: an N-terminal helical hairpin domain and a C-terminal α/β domain. The two N-terminal domains are adjacent within the dimer, forming a four-helix bundle. The ChpT C-terminal domain adopts an atypical Bergerat ATP-binding fold.
doi:10.1107/S1744309112033064
PMCID: PMC3433190  PMID: 22949187
bacterial cell cycle; Caulobacter crescentus; histidine kinases; histidine phosphotransferases
5.  Structural activation of the transcriptional repressor EthR from Mycobacterium tuberculosis by single amino acid change mimicking natural and synthetic ligands 
Nucleic Acids Research  2011;40(7):3018-3030.
Ethionamide is an antituberculous drug for the treatment of multidrug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis. This antibiotic requires activation by the monooxygenase EthA to exert its activity. Production of EthA is controlled by the transcriptional repressor EthR, a member of the TetR family. The sensitivity of M. tuberculosis to ethionamide can be artificially enhanced using synthetic ligands of EthR that allosterically inactivate its DNA-binding activity. Comparison of several structures of EthR co-crystallized with various ligands suggested that the structural reorganization of EthR resulting in its inactivation is controlled by a limited portion of the ligand-binding-pocket. In silico simulation predicted that mutation G106W may mimic ligands. X-ray crystallography of variant G106W indeed revealed a protein structurally similar to ligand-bound EthR. Surface plasmon resonance experiments established that this variant is unable to bind DNA, while thermal shift studies demonstrated that mutation G106W stabilizes EthR as strongly as ligands. Proton NMR of the methyl regions showed a lesser contribution of exchange broadening upon ligand binding, and the same quenched dynamics was observed in apo-variant G106W. Altogether, we here show that the area surrounding Gly106 constitutes the molecular switch involved in the conformational reorganization of EthR. These results also shed light on the mechanistic of ligand-induced allosterism controlling the DNA binding properties of TetR family repressors.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkr1113
PMCID: PMC3326297  PMID: 22156370
6.  Crystallization and preliminary X-ray diffraction analysis of the peptidylprolyl isomerase Par27 of Bordetella pertussis  
Par27 from B. pertussis, the prototype of a new group of parvulins has been crystallized in two different crystal forms.
Proteins with both peptidylprolyl isomerase (PPIase) and chaperone activities play a crucial role in protein folding in the periplasm of Gram-negative bacteria. Few such proteins have been structurally characterized and to date only the crystal structure of SurA from Escherichia coli has been reported. Par27, the prototype of a new group of parvulins, has recently been identified. Par27 exhibits both chaperone and PPIase activities in vitro and is the first identified parvulin protein that forms dimers in solution. Par27 has been expressed in E. coli. The protein was purified using affinity and gel-filtration chromatographic techniques and crystallized in two different crystal forms. Form A, which belongs to space group P2 (unit-cell parameters a = 42.2, b = 142.8, c = 56.0 Å, β = 95.1°), diffracts to 2.8 Å resolution, while form B, which belongs to space group C222 (unit-cell parameters a = 54.6, b = 214.1, c = 57.8 Å), diffracts to 2.2 Å resolution. Preliminary diffraction data analysis agreed with the presence of one monomer in the asymmetric unit of the orthorhombic crystal form and two in the monoclinic form.
doi:10.1107/S1744309108024731
PMCID: PMC2531267  PMID: 18765910
peptidylprolyl isomerases; Par27; parvulins; Bordetella pertussis
7.  Crystallization and preliminary X-ray analysis of a family 19 glycosyl hydrolase from Carica papaya latex 
A chitinase isolated from the latex of the tropical species Carica papaya has been crystallized. The addition of N-acetyl-d-glucosamine to the crystallization solution has improved the diffraction quality resolution of the crystal to 1.8 Å resolution.
A chitinase isolated from the latex of the tropical species Carica papaya has been purified to homogeneity and crystallized. This enzyme belongs to glycosyl hydrolase family 19 and exhibits exceptional resistance to proteolysis. The initially observed crystals, which diffracted to a resolution of 2.0 Å, were improved through modification of the crystallization protocol. Well ordered crystals were subsequently obtained using N-acetyl-d-glucosamine, the mono­mer resulting from the hydrolysis of chitin, as an additive to the crystallization solution. Here, the characterization of a chitinase crystal that belongs to the monoclinic space group P21, with unit-cell parameters a = 69.08, b = 44.79, c = 76.73 Å, β = 95.33° and two molecules per asymmetric unit, is reported. Diffraction data were collected to a resolution of 1.8 Å. Structure refinement is currently in progress.
doi:10.1107/S1744309108007823
PMCID: PMC2376395  PMID: 18453704
Carica papaya; chitinases; family 19 glycosyl hydrolases
8.  Crystallization and preliminary X-ray diffraction analysis of two extracytoplasmic solute receptors of the DctP family from Bordetella pertussis  
Sample preparation, crystallization and preliminary X-ray analysis are reported for two B. pertussis extracytoplasmic solute receptors.
DctP6 and DctP7 are two Bordetella pertussis proteins which belong to the extracytoplasmic solute receptors (ESR) superfamily. ESRs are involved in the transport of substrates from the periplasm to the cytosol of Gram-negative bacteria. DctP6 and DctP7 have been crystallized and diffraction data were collected using a synchrotron-radiation source. DctP6 crystallized in space group P41212, with unit-cell parameters a = 108.39, b = 108.39, c = 63.09 Å, while selenomethionyl-derivatized DctP7 crystallized in space group P212121, with unit-cell parameters a = 64.87, b = 149.83, c = 170.65 Å. The three-dimensional structure of DctP7 will be determined by single-wavelength anomalous diffraction, while the DctP6 structure will be solved by molecular-replacement methods.
doi:10.1107/S1744309106032982
PMCID: PMC2225189  PMID: 17012786
extracytoplasmic solute receptors; Bordetella pertussis; DctP6; DctP7
9.  Crystallization and preliminary X-ray diffraction studies of the glutaminyl cyclase from Carica papaya latex 
The glutaminyl cyclase isolated from C. papaya latex has been crystallized using the hanging-drop method. Diffraction data have been collected at ESRF beamline BM14 and processed to 1.7 Å resolution.
In living systems, the intramolecular cyclization of N-terminal glutamine residues is accomplished by glutaminyl cyclase enzymes (EC 2.3.2.5). While in mammals these enzymes are involved in the synthesis of hormonal and neurotransmitter peptides, the physiological role played by the corresponding plant enzymes still remains to be unravelled. Papaya glutaminyl cyclase (PQC), a 33 kDa enzyme found in the latex of the tropical tree Carica papaya, displays an exceptional resistance to chemical and thermal denaturation as well as to proteolysis. In order to elucidate its enzymatic mechanism and to gain insights into the structural determinants underlying its remarkable stability, PQC was isolated from papaya latex, purified and crystallized by the hanging-drop vapour-diffusion method. The crystals belong to the orthorhombic space group P212121, with unit-cell parameters a = 62.82, b = 81.23, c = 108.17 Å and two molecules per asymmetric unit. Diffraction data have been collected at ESRF beamline BM14 and processed to a resolution of 1.7 Å.
doi:10.1107/S1744309104025904
PMCID: PMC1952388  PMID: 16508091
glutaminyl cyclase

Results 1-9 (9)