The MgaSpn transcriptional regulator contributes to the virulence of Streptococcus pneumoniae. It is thought to be a member of the Mga/AtxA family of global regulators. MgaSpn was shown to activate in vivo the P1623B promoter, which is divergent from the promoter (Pmga) of its own gene. This activation required a 70-bp region (PB activation region) located between both promoters. In this work, we purified an untagged form of the MgaSpn protein, which formed dimers in solution. By gel retardation and footprinting assays, we analysed the binding of MgaSpn to linear double-stranded DNAs. MgaSpn interacted with the PB activation region when it was placed at internal position on the DNA. However, when it was positioned at one DNA end, MgaSpn recognized preferentially the Pmga promoter placed at internal position. In both cases, and on binding to the primary site, MgaSpn spread along the adjacent DNA regions generating multimeric protein–DNA complexes. When both MgaSpn-binding sites were located at internal positions on longer DNAs, electron microscopy experiments demonstrated that the PB activation region was the preferred target. DNA molecules totally or partially covered by MgaSpn were also visualized. Our results suggest that MgaSpn might recognize particular DNA conformations to achieve DNA-binding specificity.
The origin recognition complex (ORC) of Saccharomyces cerevisiae binds origin DNA and cooperates with Cdc6 and Cdt1 to load the replicative helicase MCM2–7 onto DNA. Helicase loading involves two MCM2–7 hexamers that assemble into a double hexamer around double-stranded DNA. This reaction requires ORC and Cdc6 ATPase activity, but it is unknown how these proteins control MCM2–7 double hexamer formation. We demonstrate that mutations in Cdc6 sensor-2 and Walker A motifs, which are predicted to affect ATP binding, influence the ORC–Cdc6 interaction and MCM2–7 recruitment. In contrast, a Cdc6 sensor-1 mutant affects MCM2–7 loading and Cdt1 release, similar as a Cdc6 Walker B ATPase mutant. Moreover, we show that Orc1 ATP hydrolysis is not involved in helicase loading or in releasing ORC from loaded MCM2–7. To determine whether Cdc6 regulates MCM2–7 double hexamer formation, we analysed complex assembly. We discovered that inhibition of Cdc6 ATPase restricts MCM2–7 association with origin DNA to a single hexamer, while active Cdc6 ATPase promotes recruitment of two MCM2–7 hexamer to origin DNA. Our findings illustrate how conserved Cdc6 AAA+ motifs modulate MCM2–7 recruitment, show that ATPase activity is required for MCM2–7 hexamer dimerization and demonstrate that MCM2–7 hexamers are recruited to origins in a consecutive process.
The streptococcal promiscuous plasmid pMV158 (5,540 bp) replicates by the rolling-circle mechanism and can be mobilized among a wide number of Gram-positive and -negative bacteria. The plasmid region involved in its conjugative transfer includes the mobM gene, which encodes the MobM relaxase, and the cis-acting origin of transfer (oriT). MobM initiates transfer by cleavage of supercoiled pMV158 DNA at a specific dinucleotide within oriT. In the present work, we have performed a detailed transcriptional analysis to assess the role of MobM in the control of its own gene expression. By in vivo and in vitro approaches, we demonstrated that mobM transcription in Escherichia coli was mostly initiated from a promoter (Pmob2) different from the one (Pmob1) used in Lactococcus lactis. Whereas promoter Pmob1 was embedded within the oriT sequence, promoter Pmob2 was placed apart from but adjacent to oriT. Further, MobM was able to repress the expression of its own gene from both promoters. Given the promiscuity of pMV158, the organization of the mobM promoter region suggests a strategy of the plasmid to cope with different transcription machineries of the hosts it colonizes.
Binding of the DnaA protein to oriC leads to DNA melting within the DNA unwinding element (DUE) and initiates replication of the bacterial chromosome. Helicobacter pylori oriC was previously identified as a region localized upstream of dnaA and containing a cluster of DnaA boxes bound by DnaA protein with a high affinity. However, no unwinding within the oriC sequence has been detected. Comprehensive in silico analysis presented in this work allowed us to identify an additional region (oriC2), separated from the original one (oriC1) by the dnaA gene. DnaA specifically binds both regions, but DnaA-dependent DNA unwinding occurs only within oriC2. Surprisingly, oriC2 is bound exclusively as supercoiled DNA, which directly shows the importance of the DNA topology in DnaA-oriC interactions, similarly as previously presented only for initiator-origin interactions in Archaea and some Eukaryota. We conclude that H. pylori oriC exhibits bipartite structure, being the first such origin discovered in a Gram-negative bacterium. The H. pylori mode of initiator-oriC interactions, with the loop formation between the subcomplexes of the discontinuous origin, resembles those discovered in Bacillus subtilis chromosome and in many plasmids, which might suggest a similar way of controlling initiation of replication.
Here, we describe a novel missense mutation in the amyloid precursor protein (APP) causing a lysine-to-asparagine substitution at position 687 (APP770; herein, referred to as K16N according to amyloid-β (Aβ) numbering) resulting in an early onset dementia with an autosomal dominant inheritance pattern. The K16N mutation is located exactly at the α-secretase cleavage site and influences both APP and Aβ. First, due to the K16N mutation APP secretion is affected and a higher amount of Aβ peptides is being produced. Second, Aβ peptides carrying the K16N mutation are unique in that the peptide itself is not harmful to neuronal cells. Severe toxicity, however, is evident upon equimolar mixture of wt and mutant peptides, mimicking the heterozygous state of the subject. Furthermore, Aβ42 K16N inhibits fibril formation of Aβ42 wild-type. Even more, Aβ42 K16N peptides are protected against clearance activity by the major Aβ-degrading enzyme neprilysin. Thus the mutation characterized here harbours a combination of risk factors that synergistically may contribute to the development of early onset Alzheimer disease.
aggregation; Alzheimer disease; amyloid-beta toxicity; APP processing; neprilysin
Two inducible temperate bacteriophages ΦS9 and ΦS63 from Clostridium perfringens were sequenced and analyzed. Isometric heads and long non-contractile tails classify ΦS9 and ΦS63 in the Siphoviridae family, and their genomes consist of 39,457 bp (ΦS9) and 33,609 bp (ΦS63) linear dsDNA, respectively. ΦS63 has 3′-overlapping cohesive genome ends, whereas ΦS9 is the first Clostridium phage featuring an experimentally proven terminally redundant and circularly permuted genome. A total of 50 and 43 coding sequences were predicted for ΦS9 and ΦS63, respectively, organized into 6 distinct lifestyle-associated modules typical for temperate Siphoviruses. Putative functions could be assigned to 26 gene products of ΦS9, and to 25 of ΦS63. The ΦS9 attB attachment and insertion site is located in a non-coding region upstream of a putative phosphorylase gene. Interestingly, ΦS63 integrates into the 3′ part of sigK in C. perfringens, and represents the first functional skin-element-like phage described for this genus. With respect to possible effects of lysogeny, we did not obtain evidence that ΦS9 may influence sporulation of a lysogenized host. In contrast, interruption of sigK, a sporulation associated gene in various bacteria, by the ΦS63 prophage insertion is more likely to affect sporulation of its carrier.
Clostridium perfringens; prophage; attachment site; sporulation; skin-element
A diverse set of 24 novel phages infecting the fire blight pathogen Erwinia amylovora was isolated from fruit production environments in Switzerland. Based on initial screening, four phages (L1, M7, S6, and Y2) with broad host ranges were selected for detailed characterization and genome sequencing. Phage L1 is a member of the Podoviridae, with a 39.3-kbp genome featuring invariable genome ends with direct terminal repeats. Phage S6, another podovirus, was also found to possess direct terminal repeats but has a larger genome (74.7 kbp), and the virus particle exhibits a complex tail fiber structure. Phages M7 and Y2 both belong to the Myoviridae family and feature long, contractile tails and genomes of 84.7 kbp (M7) and 56.6 kbp (Y2), respectively, with direct terminal repeats. The architecture of all four phage genomes is typical for tailed phages, i.e., organized into function-specific gene clusters. All four phages completely lack genes or functions associated with lysogeny control, which correlates well with their broad host ranges and indicates strictly lytic (virulent) lifestyles without the possibility for host lysogenization. Comparative genomics revealed that M7 is similar to E. amylovora virus ΦEa21-4, whereas L1, S6, and Y2 are unrelated to any other E. amylovora phage. Instead, they feature similarities to enterobacterial viruses T7, N4, and ΦEcoM-GJ1. In a series of laboratory experiments, we provide proof of concept that specific two-phage cocktails offer the potential for biocontrol of the pathogen.
CP81 is a virulent Campylobacter group III phage whose linear genome comprises 132,454 bp. At the nucleotide level, CP81 differs from other phages. However, a number of its structural and replication/recombination proteins revealed a relationship to the group II Campylobacter phages CP220/CPt10 and to T4-type phages. Unlike the T4-related phages, the CP81 genome does not contain conserved replication and virion modules. Instead, the respective genes are scattered throughout the phage genome. Moreover, most genes for metabolic enzymes of CP220/CPt10 are lacking in CP81. On the other hand, the CP81 genome contains nine similar genes for homing endonucleases which may be involved in the attrition of the conserved gene order for the virion core genes of T4-type phages. The phage apparently possesses an unusual modification of C or G bases. Efficient cleavage of its DNA was only achieved with restriction enzymes recognizing pure A/T sites. Uncommonly, phenol extraction leads to a significant loss of CP81 DNA from the aqueous layer, a property not yet described for other phages belonging to the T4 superfamily.
Somatic cells reprogrammed into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) acquire features of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) and thus represent a promising source for cellular therapy of debilitating diseases, such as age-related disorders. However, reprogrammed cell lines have been found to harbor various genomic alterations. In addition, we recently discovered that the mitochondrial DNA of human fibroblasts also undergoes random mutational events upon reprogramming. Aged somatic cells might possess high susceptibility to nuclear and mitochondrial genome instability. Hence, concerns over the oncogenic potential of reprogrammed cells due to the lack of genomic integrity may hinder the applicability of iPSC-based therapies for age-associated conditions. Here, we investigated whether aged reprogrammed cells harboring chromosomal abnormalities show resistance to apoptotic cell death or mitochondrial-associated oxidative stress, both hallmarks of cancer transformation. Four iPSC lines were generated from dermal fibroblasts derived from an 84-year-old woman, representing the oldest human donor so far reprogrammed to pluripotency. Despite the presence of karyotype aberrations, all aged-iPSCs were able to differentiate into neurons, re-establish telomerase activity, and reconfigure mitochondrial ultra-structure and functionality to a hESC-like state. Importantly, aged-iPSCs exhibited high sensitivity to drug-induced apoptosis and low levels of oxidative stress and DNA damage, in a similar fashion as iPSCs derived from young donors and hESCs. Thus, the occurrence of chromosomal abnormalities within aged reprogrammed cells might not be sufficient to over-ride the cellular surveillance machinery and induce malignant transformation through the alteration of mitochondrial-associated cell death. Taken together, we unveiled that cellular reprogramming is capable of reversing aging-related features in somatic cells from a very old subject, despite the presence of genomic alterations. Nevertheless, we believe it will be essential to develop reprogramming protocols capable of safeguarding the integrity of the genome of aged somatic cells, before employing iPSC-based therapy for age-associated disorders.
The p53 tumour suppressor is a transcriptional activator that controls cell fate in response to various stresses. p53 can initiate cell cycle arrest, senescence and/or apoptosis via transactivation of p53 target genes, thus preventing cancer onset. Mutations that impair p53 usually occur in the core domain and negate the p53 sequence-specific DNA binding. Moreover, these mutations exhibit a dominant negative effect on the remaining wild-type p53. Here, we report the cryo electron microscopy structure of the full-length p53 tetramer bound to a DNA-encoding transcription factor response element (RE) at a resolution of 21 Å. While two core domains from both dimers of the p53 tetramer interact with DNA within the complex, the other two core domains remain available for binding another DNA site. This finding helps to explain the dominant negative effect of p53 mutants based on the fact that p53 dimers are formed co-translationally before the whole tetramer assembles; therefore, a single mutant dimer would prevent the p53 tetramer from binding DNA. The structure indicates that the Achilles’ heel of p53 is in its dimer-of-dimers organization, thus the tetramer activity can be negated by mutation in only one allele followed by tumourigenesis.
The genomes of the two lytic mutant Staphylococcus aureus bacteriophages, vB_SauS-phiIPLA35 (phiIPLA35) and vB_SauS-phiIPLA88 (phiIPLA88), isolated from milk have been analyzed. Their genomes are 45,344 bp and 42,526 bp long, respectively, and contain 62 and 61 open reading frames (ORFS). Enzymatic analyses and sequencing revealed that the phiIPLA35 DNA molecule has 3′-protruding cohesive ends (cos) 10 bp long, whereas phiIPLA88 DNA is 4.5% terminally redundant and most likely is packaged by a headful mechanism. N-terminal amino acid sequencing, mass spectrometry, bioinformatic analyses, and functional analyses enabled the assignment of putative functions to 58 gene products, including DNA packaging proteins, morphogenetic proteins, lysis components, and proteins necessary for DNA recombination, modification, and replication. Point mutations in their lysogeny control-associated genes explain their strictly lytic behavior. Muralytic activity associated with other structural components has been detected in virions of both phages. Comparative analysis of phiIPLA35 and phiIPLA88 genome structures shows that they resemble those of φ12 and φ11, respectively, both representatives of large genomic groupings within the S. aureus-infecting phages.
The glutamine/asparagine (Q/N)-rich yeast prion protein Sup35 has a low intrinsic propensity to spontaneously self-assemble into ordered, β-sheet-rich amyloid fibrils. In yeast cells, de novo formation of Sup35 aggregates is greatly facilitated by high protein concentrations and the presence of preformed Q/N-rich protein aggregates that template Sup35 polymerization. Here, we have investigated whether aggregation-promoting polyglutamine (polyQ) tracts can stimulate the de novo formation of ordered Sup35 protein aggregates in the absence of Q/N-rich yeast prions. Fusion proteins with polyQ tracts of different lengths were produced and their ability to spontaneously self-assemble into amlyloid structures was analyzed using in vitro and in vivo model systems. We found that Sup35 fusions with pathogenic (≥54 glutamines), as opposed to non-pathogenic (19 glutamines) polyQ tracts efficiently form seeding-competent protein aggregates. Strikingly, polyQ-mediated de novo assembly of Sup35 protein aggregates in yeast cells was independent of pre-existing Q/N-rich protein aggregates. This indicates that increasing the content of aggregation-promoting sequences enhances the tendency of Sup35 to spontaneously self-assemble into insoluble protein aggregates. A similar result was obtained when pathogenic polyQ tracts were linked to the yeast prion protein Rnq1, demonstrating that polyQ sequences are generic inducers of amyloidogenesis. In conclusion, long polyQ sequences are powerful molecular tools that allow the efficient production of seeding-competent amyloid structures.
Only little information on a particular class of myoviruses, the SPO1-like bacteriophages infecting low-G+C-content, gram-positive host bacteria (Firmicutes), is available. We present the genome analysis and molecular characterization of the large, virulent, broad-host-range Listeria phage A511. A511 contains a unit (informational) genome of 134,494 bp, encompassing 190 putative open reading frames (ORFs) and 16 tRNA genes, organized in a modular fashion common among the Caudovirales. Electron microscopy, enzymatic fragmentation analyses, and sequencing revealed that the A511 DNA molecule contains linear terminal repeats of a total of 3,125 bp, encompassing nine small putative ORFs. This particular genome structure explains why A511 is unable to perform general transduction. A511 features significant sequence homologies to Listeria phage P100 and other morphologically related phages infecting Firmicutes such as Staphylococcus phage K and Lactobacillus phage LP65. Equivalent but more-extensive terminal repeats also exist in phages P100 (∼6 kb) and K (∼20 kb). High-resolution electron microscopy revealed, for the first time, the presence of long tail fibers organized in a sixfold symmetry in these viruses. Mass spectrometry-based peptide fingerprinting permitted assignment of individual proteins to A511 structural components. On the basis of the data available for A511 and relatives, we propose that SPO1-like myoviruses are characterized by (i) their infection of gram-positive, low-G+C-content bacteria; (ii) a wide host range within the host bacterial genus and a strictly virulent lifestyle; (iii) similar morphology, sequence relatedness, and collinearity of the phage genome organization; and (iv) large double-stranded DNA genomes featuring nonpermuted terminal repeats of various sizes.
Mutations in the MID1 protein have been found in patients with Opitz BBB/G syndrome (OS), which is characterised by multiple malformations of the ventral midline. MID1 is a microtubule-associated protein that stabilizes microtubules and, in association with the regulatory subunit of protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A), α4, provides ubiquitin ligase activity for the ubiquitin-specific modification of PP2A. Using Fluorescence Recovery After Photobleaching (FRAP) technology, we show here that MID1 is actively and bi-directionally transported along the microtubules, and that this movement is directly linked to its MAP kinase and PP2A-mediated phosphorylation status. Intact transport depends on both kinesins and dyneins and is inhibited upon colcemide treatments. MID1 proteins carrying missense mutations in the α4 binding domain still bind the microtubules but cannot be actively transported. Likewise, knock-down of the α4 protein, inhibition of PP2A activity by okadaic acid and fostriecin or the simulation of permanent phosphorylation at Ser96 in MID1 stop the migration of MID1-GFP, while preserving its microtubule-association. In summary, our data uncover an unexpected and novel function for PP2A, its regulatory subunit α4 and PP2A/α4/mTOR signaling in the active transport of the MID1 ubiquitin ligase complex along the cytoskeleton. Furthermore, a failure in the microtubule directed transport of this protein complex would be an attractive mechanism underlying the pathogenesis of OS in patients with B-box1 mutations.
TrpY binds specifically to TRP box sequences upstream of trpB2, but the repression of trpB2 transcription requires additional TrpY assembly that is stimulated by but not dependent on the presence of tryptophan. Inhibitory complex formation is prevented by insertions within the regulatory region and by a G149R substitution in TrpY, even though TrpY(G149R) retains both TRP box DNA- and tryptophan-binding abilities.
The accurate partitioning of Firmicute plasmid pSM19035 at cell division depends on ATP binding and hydrolysis by homodimeric ATPase δ2 (ParA) and binding of ω2 (ParB) to its cognate parS DNA. The 1.83 Å resolution crystal structure of δ2 in a complex with non-hydrolyzable ATPγS reveals a unique ParA dimer assembly that permits nucleotide exchange without requiring dissociation into monomers. In vitro, δ2 had minimal ATPase activity in the absence of ω2 and parS DNA. However, stoichiometric amounts of ω2 and parS DNA stimulated the δ2 ATPase activity and mediated plasmid pairing, whereas at high (4:1) ω2 : δ2 ratios, stimulation of the ATPase activity was reduced and δ2 polymerized onto DNA. Stimulation of the δ2 ATPase activity and its polymerization on DNA required ability of ω2 to bind parS DNA and its N-terminus. In vivo experiments showed that δ2 alone associated with the nucleoid, and in the presence of ω2 and parS DNA, δ2 oscillated between the nucleoid and the cell poles and formed spiral-like structures. Our studies indicate that the molar ω2 : δ2 ratio regulates the polymerization properties of (δ•ATP•Mg2+)2 on and depolymerization from parS DNA, thereby controlling the temporal and spatial segregation of pSM19035 before cell division.
Plasmids replicating by the rolling circle mode usually possess a single site for binding of the initiator protein at the origin of replication. The origin of pMV158 is different in that it possesses two distant binding regions for the initiator RepB. One region was located close to the site where RepB introduces the replication-initiating nick, within the nic locus; the other, the bind locus, is 84 bp downstream from the nick site. Binding of RepB to the bind locus was of higher affinity and stability than to the nic locus. Contacts of RepB with the bind and nic loci were determined through high-resolution footprinting. Upon binding of RepB, the DNA of the bind locus follows a winding path in its contact with the protein, resulting in local distortion and bending of the double-helix. On supercoiled DNA, simultaneous interaction of RepB with both loci favoured extrusion of the hairpin structure harbouring the nick site while causing a strong DNA distortion around the bind locus. This suggests interplay between the two RepB binding sites, which could facilitate loading of the initiator protein to the nic locus and the acquisition of the appropriate configuration of the supercoiled DNA substrate.
The Bacillus subtilis RecU protein is able to catalyze in vitro DNA strand annealing and Holliday-junction resolution. The interaction between the RecA and RecU proteins, in the presence or absence of a single-stranded binding (SSB) protein, was studied. Substoichiometric amounts of RecU enhanced RecA loading onto single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) and stimulated RecA-catalyzed D-loop formation. However, RecU inhibited the RecA-mediated three-strand exchange reaction and ssDNA-dependent dATP or rATP hydrolysis. The addition of an SSB protein did not reverse the negative effect exerted by RecU on RecA function. Annealing of circular ssDNA and homologous linear 3′-tailed double-stranded DNA by RecU was not affected by the addition of RecA both in the presence and in the absence of SSB. We propose that RecU modulates RecA activities by promoting RecA-catalyzed strand invasion and inhibiting RecA-mediated branch migration, by preventing RecA filament disassembly, and suggest a potential mechanism for the control of resolvasome assembly.
The Yersinia enterocolitica prophage PY54 replicates as a linear DNA molecule with covalently closed ends. For replication of a circular PY54 minimal replicon that has been derived from a linear minireplicon, two phage-encoded loci are essential in Escherichia coli: (i) the reading frame of the replication initiation gene repA and (ii) its 212-bp origin located within the 3′ portion of repA. The RepA protein acts in trans on the origin since we have physically separated the PY54 origin and repA onto a two-plasmid origin test system. For this trans action, the repA 3′ end carrying the origin is dispensable. Mutagenesis by alanine scan demonstrated that the motifs for primase and for nucleotide binding present in the protein are essential for RepA activity. The replication initiation functions of RepA are replicon specific. The replication initiation proteins DnaA, DnaG, and DnaB of the host are unable to promote origin replication in the presence of mutant RepA proteins that carry single residue exchanges in these motifs. The proposed origins of the known related hairpin prophages PY54, N15, and PKO2 are all located toward the 3′ end of the corresponding repA genes, where several structure elements are conserved. Origin function depends on the integrity of these elements.
Bacillus subtilis mutants classified within the ɛ (ruvA, ΔruvB, ΔrecU, and recD) and η (ΔrecG) epistatic groups, in an otherwise rec+ background, render cells impaired in chromosomal segregation. A less-pronounced segregation defect in ΔrecA and Δsms (ΔradA) cells was observed. The repair deficiency of addAB, ΔrecO, ΔrecR, recH, ΔrecS, and ΔsubA cells did not correlate with a chromosomal segregation defect. The sensitivity of ɛ epistatic group mutants to DNA-damaging agents correlates with ongoing DNA replication at the time of exposure to the agents. The Δsms (ΔradA) and ΔsubA mutations partially suppress the DNA repair defect in ruvA and recD cells and the segregation defect in ruvA and ΔrecG cells. The Δsms (ΔradA) and ΔsubA mutations partially suppress the DNA repair defect of ΔrecU cells but do not suppress the segregation defect in these cells. The ΔrecA mutation suppresses the segregation defect but does not suppress the DNA repair defect in ΔrecU cells. These results result suggest that (i) the RuvAB and RecG branch migrating DNA helicases, the RecU Holliday junction (HJ) resolvase, and RecD bias HJ resolution towards noncrossovers and that (ii) Sms (RadA) and SubA proteins might play a role in the stabilization and or processing of HJ intermediates.
In the known monoclinic crystals the 3-dimensional structure of the hexameric, replicative helicase RepA encoded by plasmid RSF1010 shows 6-fold rotational symmetry. In contrast, in the cubic crystal form at 2.55 Å resolution described here RepA has 3-fold symmetry and consists of a trimer of dimers. To study structure–function relationships, a series of repA deletion mutants and mutations yielding single amino acid exchanges were constructed and the respective gene products were analyzed in vivo and in vitro. Hexamerization of RepA occurs via the N-terminus and is required for NTP hydrolysis. The C-terminus is essential both for the interaction with the replication machinery and for the helicase activity. Functional analyses of RepA variants with single amino acid exchanges confirmed most of the predictions that were based on the published 3-dimensional structure. Of the five motifs conserved in family 4 helicases, all residues conserved in RepA and T7 gp4 helicases participate in DNA unwinding. Residues K42, E76, D77, D139 and H178, proposed to play key roles in catalyzing the hydrolysis of NTPs, are essential for RepA activity. Residue H178 of motif H3 couples nucleotide consumption to DNA strand separation.
Proteins of the VirB4 family are encoded by conjugative plasmids and by type IV secretion systems, which specify macromolecule export machineries related to conjugation systems. The central feature of VirB4 proteins is a nucleotide binding site. In this study, we asked whether members of the VirB4 protein family have similarities in their primary structures and whether these proteins hydrolyze nucleotides. A multiple-sequence alignment of 19 members of the VirB4 protein family revealed striking overall similarities. We defined four common motifs and one conserved domain. One member of this protein family, TrbE of plasmid RP4, was genetically characterized by site-directed mutagenesis. Most mutations in trbE resulted in complete loss of its activities, which eliminated pilus production, propagation of plasmid-specific phages, and DNA transfer ability in Escherichia coli. Biochemical studies of a soluble derivative of RP4 TrbE and of the full-length homologous protein R388 TrwK revealed that the purified forms of these members of the VirB4 protein family do not hydrolyze ATP or GTP and behave as monomers in solution.
TraG-like proteins are potential NTP hydrolases (NTPases) that are essential for DNA transfer in bacterial conjugation. They are thought to mediate interactions between the DNA-processing (Dtr) and the mating pair formation (Mpf) systems. TraG-like proteins also function as essential components of type IV secretion systems of several bacterial pathogens such as Helicobacter pylori. Here we present the biochemical characterization of three members of the family of TraG-like proteins, TraG (RP4), TraD (F), and HP0524 (H. pylori). These proteins were found to have a pronounced tendency to form oligomers and were shown to bind DNA without sequence specificity. Standard NTPase assays indicated that these TraG-like proteins do not possess postulated NTP-hydrolyzing activity. Surface plasmon resonance was used to demonstrate an interaction between TraG and relaxase TraI of RP4. Topology analysis of TraG revealed that TraG is a transmembrane protein with cytosolic N and C termini and a short periplasmic domain close to the N terminus. We predict that multimeric inner membrane protein TraG forms a pore. A model suggesting that the relaxosome binds to the TraG pore via TraG-DNA and TraG-TraI interactions is presented.
A Shiga toxin (Stx)-encoding temperate bacteriophage of Shigella sonnei strain CB7888 was investigated for its morphology, DNA similarity, host range, and lysogenization in Shigella and Escherichia coli strains. Phage 7888 formed plaques on a broad spectrum of Shigella strains belonging to different species and serotypes, including Stx-producing Shigella dysenteriae type 1. With E. coli, only strains with rough lipopolysaccharide were sensitive to this phage. The phage integrated into the genome of nontoxigenic S. sonnei and laboratory E. coli K-12 strains, which became Stx positive upon lysogenization. Moreover, phage 7888 is capable of transducing chromosomal genes in E. coli K-12. The relationships of phage 7888 with the E. coli Stx1-producing phage H-19B and the E. coli Stx2-producing phage 933W were investigated by DNA cross-hybridization of phage genomes and by nucleotide sequencing of an 8,053-bp DNA region of the phage 7888 genome flanking the stx genes. By these methods, a high similarity was found between phages 7888 and 933W. Much less similarity was found between phages H-19B and 7888. As in the other Stx phages, a regulatory region involved in Q-dependent expression is found upstream of stxA and stxB (stx gene) in phage 7888. The morphology of phage 7888 was similar to that of phage 933W, which shows a hexagonal head and a short tail. Our findings demonstrate that stx genes are naturally transferable and are expressed in strains of S. sonnei, which points to the continuous evolution of human-pathogenic Shigella by horizontal gene transfer.
A specific PCR for the detection of a variant of the gene encoding Shiga toxin 1 (stx1) called stx1OX3 (GenBank accession no. Z36901) was developed. The PCR was used to investigate 148 Stx1-producing Escherichia coli strains from human patients (n = 72), cattle (n = 27), sheep (n = 48), and a goat (n = 1) for the presence of the stx1OX3 gene. The stx1OX3 gene was present in 38 Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) strains from sheep belonging to serogroups O5, O125, O128, O146, and OX3 but was absent from Stx1-positive ovine STEC O91 strains. The stx1OX3 gene was also detected in 22 STEC strains from humans with nonbloody diarrhea and from asymptomatic excreters. Serotypes O146:H21 and O128:H2 were most frequently associated with stx1OX3-carrying STEC from sheep and humans. In contrast, Stx1-producing STEC strains from cattle and goats and 50 STEC strains from humans were all negative for the stx1OX3 gene. The stx1OX3-negative strains belonged to 13 serotypes which were different from those of the stx1OX3-positive STEC strains. Moreover, the stx1OX3 gene was not associated with STEC belonging to enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) serogroups O26, O103, O111, O118, O145, and O157. A bacteriophage carrying the stx1OX3 gene (phage 6220) was isolated from a human STEC O146:H21 strain. The phage was able to lysogenize laboratory E. coli K-12 strain C600. Phage 6220 shared a similar morphology and a high degree of DNA homology with Stx2-encoding phage 933W, which originates from EHEC O157. In contrast, few similarities were found between phage 6220 and Stx1-encoding bacteriophage H-19B from EHEC O26.