Three evolutionarily distinct families of replicative DNA polymerases, designated polymerase B (Pol B), Pol C, and Pol D, have been identified. Members of the Pol B family are present in all three domains of life, whereas Pol C exists only in Bacteria and Pol D exists only in Archaea. Pol B enzymes replicate eukaryotic chromosomal DNA, and as members of the Pol B family are present in all Archaea, it has been assumed that Pol B enzymes also replicate archaeal genomes. Here we report the construction of Thermococcus kodakarensis strains with mutations that delete or inactivate key functions of Pol B. T. kodakarensis strains lacking Pol B had no detectable loss in viability and no growth defects or changes in spontaneous mutation frequency but had increased sensitivity to UV irradiation. In contrast, we were unable to introduce mutations that inactivated either of the genes encoding the two subunits of Pol D. The results reported establish that Pol D is sufficient for viability and genome replication in T. kodakarensis and argue that Pol D rather than Pol B is likely the replicative DNA polymerase in this archaeon. The majority of Archaea contain Pol D, and, as discussed, if Pol D is the predominant replicative polymerase in Archaea, this profoundly impacts hypotheses for the origin(s), evolution, and distribution of the different DNA replication enzymes and systems now employed in the three domains of life.
Proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) monomers assemble to form a ring-shaped clamp complex that encircles duplex DNA. PCNA binding to other proteins tethers them to the DNA providing contacts and interactions for many other enzymes essential for DNA metabolic processes. Most eukarya and euryarchaea have only one PCNA homolog but Thermococcus kodakarensis uniquely has two, designated PCNA1 and PCNA2, encoded by TK0535 and TK0582, respectively. Here, we establish that both PCNA1 and PCNA2 form homotrimers that stimulate DNA synthesis by archaeal DNA polymerases B and D and ATP hydrolysis by the replication factor C complex. In exponentially growing cells, PCNA1 is abundant and present at an ~100-fold higher concentration than PCNA2 monomers. Deletion of TK0582 (PCNA2) had no detectable effects on viability or growth whereas repeated attempts to construct a T. kodakarensis strain with TK0535 (PCNA1) deleted were unsuccessful. The implications of these observations for PCNA1 function and the origin of the two PCNA-encoding genes in T. kodakarensis are discussed.
Archaea; DNA replication; Genetics; PCNA; Structure; Thermococcus kodakarensis
In eukaryotes, the CMG (CDC45, MCM, GINS) complex containing the replicative helicase MCM is a key player in DNA replication. Archaeal homologs of the eukaryotic MCM and GINS proteins have been identified but until recently no homolog of the CDC45 protein was known. Two recent developments, namely the discovery of archaeal GINS-associated nuclease (GAN) that belongs to the RecJ family of the DHH hydrolase superfamily and the demonstration of homology between the DHH domains of CDC45 and RecJ, show that at least some Archaea possess a full complement of homologs of the CMG complex subunits. Here we present the results of in-depth phylogenomic analysis of RecJ homologs in archaea.
We confirm and extend the recent hypothesis that CDC45 is the eukaryotic ortholog of the bacterial and archaeal RecJ family nucleases. At least one RecJ homolog was identified in all sequenced archaeal genomes, with the single exception of Caldivirga maquilingensis. These proteins include previously unnoticed remote RecJ homologs with inactivated DHH domain in Thermoproteales. Combined with phylogenetic tree reconstruction of diverse eukaryotic, archaeal and bacterial DHH subfamilies, this analysis yields a complex scenario of RecJ family evolution in Archaea which includes independent inactivation of the nuclease domain in Crenarchaeota and Halobacteria, and loss of this domain in Methanococcales.
The archaeal complex of a CDC45/RecJ homolog, MCM and GINS is homologous and most likely functionally analogous to the eukaryotic CMG complex, and appears to be a key component of the DNA replication machinery in all Archaea. It is inferred that the last common archaeo-eukaryotic ancestor encoded a CMG complex that contained an active nuclease of the RecJ family. The inactivated RecJ homologs in several archaeal lineages most likely are dedicated structural components of replication complexes.
This article was reviewed by Prof. Patrick Forterre, Dr. Stephen John Aves (nominated by Dr. Purificacion Lopez-Garcia) and Prof. Martijn Huynen.
For the full reviews, see the Reviewers' Comments section.
The minichromosome maintenance (MCM) complex is thought to function as the replicative helicase in archaea and eukaryotes. In eukaryotes, this complex is an assembly of six different but related polypeptides (MCM2-7) but, in most archaea, one MCM protein assembles to form a homohexameric complex. Atypically, the Thermococcus kodakarensis genome encodes three archaeal MCM homologs, here designated MCM1-3, although MCM1 and MCM2 are unusual in having long and unique N-terminal extensions. The results reported establish that MCM2 and MCM3 assemble into homohexamers and exhibit DNA binding, helicase and ATPase activities in vitro typical of archaeal MCMs. In contrast, MCM1 does not form homohexamers and although MCM1 binds DNA and has ATPase activity, it has only minimal helicase activity in vitro. Removal of the N-terminal extension had no detectable effects on MCM1 but increased the helicase activity of MCM2. A T. kodakarensis strain with the genes TK0096 (MCM1) and TK1361 (MCM2) deleted has been constructed that exhibits no detectable defects in growth or viability, but all attempts to delete TK1620 (MCM3) have been unsuccessful arguing that that MCM3 is essential and is likely the replicative helicase in T. kodakarensis. The origins and possible function(s) of the three MCM proteins are discussed.
Correct annotation of function is essential if one is to take full advantage of the vast amounts of genomic sequence data. The accuracy of sequence-based functional annotations is often variable, particularly if the sequence homology to a known function is low. Indeed recent work has shown that even proteins with very high sequence identity can have different folds and functions, and therefore caution is needed in assigning functions by sequence homology in the absence of experimental validation. Experimental methods are therefore needed to efficiently evaluate annotations in a way that complements current high throughput technologies. Here, we describe the use of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR)-based ligand screening as a tool for testing functional assignments of putative enzymes that may be of variable reliability.
The target genes for this study are putative enzymes from the methanogenic archaeon Methanosarcina acetivorans (MA) that have been selected after manual genome re-annotation and demonstrate detectable in vivo expression at the level of the transcriptome. The experimental approach begins with heterologous E. coli expression and purification of individual MA gene products. An NMR-based ligand screen of the purified protein then identifies possible substrates or products from a library of candidate compounds chosen from the putative pathway and other related pathways. These data are used to determine if the current sequence-based annotation is likely to be correct. For a number of case studies, additional experiments (such as in vivo genetic complementation) were performed to determine function so that the reliability of the NMR screen could be independently assessed.
In all examples studied, the NMR screen was indicative of whether the functional annotation was correct. Thus, the case studies described demonstrate that NMR-based ligand screening is an effective and rapid tool for confirming or negating the annotated gene function of putative enzymes. In particular, no protein-specific assay needs to be developed, which makes the approach broadly applicable for validating putative functions using an automated pipeline strategy.
cobalamin deficiency; pernicious anemia; transcobalamin I deficiency; sickle cell disease; ethnicity; blacks
Chromosomal DNA replication requires the spatial and temporal coordination of the activities of several complexes that constitute the replisome. A previously uncharacterized protein, encoded by TK1252 in the archaeon Thermococcus kodakaraensis, was shown to stably interact with the archaeal GINS complex in vivo, a central component of the archaeal replisome. Here, we document that this protein (TK1252p) is a processive, single-strand DNA-specific exonuclease that degrades DNA in the 5′ → 3′ direction. TK1252p binds specifically to the GINS15 subunit of T. kodakaraensis GINS complex and this interaction stimulates the exonuclease activity in vitro. This novel archaeal nuclease, designated GINS-associated nuclease (GAN), also forms a complex in vivo with the euryarchaeal-specific DNA polymerase D. Roles for GAN in replisome assembly and DNA replication are discussed.
The minichromosome maintenance (MCM) complex is thought to function as the replicative helicase in archaea, separating the two strands of chromosomal DNA during replication. The catalytic activity resides within the C-terminal region of the MCM protein, while the N-terminal portion plays an important role in DNA binding and protein multimerization. An alignment of MCM homologues from several archaeal species revealed a number of conserved amino acids. Here several of the conserved residues located on the surface of the helicase have been mutated and their roles in MCM functions determined. It was found that some mutations result in increased affinity for ssDNA while the affinity for dsDNA is decreased. Other mutants exhibit the opposite effect. Thus, the data suggest that these conserved surface residues may participate in MCM-DNA interactions.
Nineteen Thermococcus kodakarensis strains have been constructed, each of which synthesizes a different His6-tagged protein known or predicted to be a component of the archaeal DNA replication machinery. Using the His6-tagged proteins, stable complexes assembled in vivo have been isolated directly from clarified cell lysates and the T. kodakarensis proteins present have been identified by mass spectrometry. Based on the results obtained, a network of interactions among the archaeal replication proteins has been established that confirms previously documented and predicted interactions, provides experimental evidence for previously unrecognized interactions between proteins with known functions and with unknown functions, and establishes a firm experimental foundation for archaeal replication research. The proteins identified and their participation in archaeal DNA replication are discussed and related to their bacterial and eukaryotic counterparts.
DNA replication is a central and essential event in all cell cycles. Historically, the biological world was divided into prokaryotes and eukaryotes, based on the absence or presence of a nuclear membrane, and many components of the DNA replication machinery have been identified and characterized as conserved or nonconserved in prokaryotic versus eukaryotic organisms. However, it is now known that there are two evolutionarily distinct prokaryotic domains, Bacteria and Archaea, and to date, most prokaryotic replication research has investigated bacterial replication. Here, we have taken advantage of recently developed genetic techniques to isolate and identify many proteins likely to be components of the archaeal DNA replication machinery. The results confirm and extend predictions from genome sequencing that the archaeal replication system is less complex but more closely related to a eukaryotic than to a bacterial replication system.
Functional coordination between DNA replication helicases and DNA polymerases at replication forks, achieved through physical linkages, has been demonstrated in prokaryotes but not in eukaryotes. In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, we showed that mutations that compromise the activity of the MCM helicase enhance the physical stability of DNA polymerase α in the absence of their presumed linker, Mcm10. Mcm10 is an essential DNA replication protein implicated in the stable assembly of the replisome by virtue of its interaction with the MCM2-7 helicase and Polα. Dominant mcm2 suppressors of mcm10 mutants restore viability by restoring the stability of Polα without restoring the stability of Mcm10, in a Mec1-dependent manner. In this process, the single-stranded DNA accumulation observed in the mcm10 mutant is suppressed. The activities of key checkpoint regulators known to be important for replication fork stabilization contribute to the efficiency of suppression. These results suggest that Mcm10 plays two important roles as a linker of the MCM helicase and Polα at the elongating replication fork—first, to coordinate the activities of these two molecular motors, and second, to ensure their physical stability and the integrity of the replication fork.
The mini-chromosome maintenance (MCM) proteins serve as the replicative helicases in archaea and eukaryotes. Interestingly, an MCM homolog was identified, by BLAST analysis, within a phage integrated in the bacterium Bacillus cereus (Bc). BcMCM is only related to the AAA region of MCM-helicases; the typical amino-terminus is missing and is replaced by a segment with weak homology to primases. We show that BcMCM displays 3′→5′ helicase and ssDNA-stimulated ATPase activity, properties that arise from its conserved AAA domain. Isolated BcMCM is a monomer in solution but likely forms the functional oligomer in vivo. We found that the BcMCM amino-terminus can bind ssDNA and harbors a zinc atom, both hallmarks of the typical MCM amino-terminus. No BcMCM-catalyzed primase activity could be detected. We propose that the divergent amino-terminus of BcMCM is a paralog of the corresponding region of MCM-helicases. A divergent amino terminus makes BcMCM a useful model for typical MCM-helicases since it accomplishes the same function using an apparently unrelated structure.
The Cdc6-1 and -2 proteins from the archaeon Methanothermobacter thermautotrophicus were previously shown to bind the minichromosome maintenance (MCM) helicase. It is shown here that Cdc6-2 protein dissociates the MCM complex. This observation supports the hypothesis that the Cdc6-2 protein functions as a helicase loader.
The minichromosome maintenance (MCM) proteins are thought to function as the replicative helicases in archaea. In most archaeal species studied, the interaction between MCM and the initiator protein, Cdc6, inhibits helicase activity. To date, the only exception is the helicase and Cdc6 proteins from the archaeon Thermoplasma acidophilum. It was previously shown that when the Cdc6 protein interacts with MCM it substantially stimulates helicase activity. It is shown here that the mechanism by which the Cdc6 protein stimulates helicase activity is by stimulating the ATPase activity of MCM. Also, through the use of site-specific substitutions, and truncated and chimeric proteins, it was shown that an intact Cdc6 protein is required for this stimulation. ATP binding and hydrolysis by the Cdc6 protein is not needed for the stimulation. The data suggest that binding of Cdc6 protein to MCM protein changes the structure of the helicase, enhancing the catalytic hydrolysis of ATP and helicase activity.
Aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase-containing complexes have been identified in different eukaryotes, and their existence has also been suggested in some Archaea. To investigate interactions involving aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases in Archaea, we undertook a yeast two-hybrid screen for interactions between Methanothermobacter thermautotrophicus proteins using prolyl-tRNA synthetase (ProRS) as the bait. Interacting proteins identified included components of methanogenesis, protein-modifying factors, and leucyl-tRNA synthetase (LeuRS). The association of ProRS with LeuRS was confirmed in vitro by native gel electrophoresis and size exclusion chromatography. Determination of the steady-state kinetics of tRNAPro charging showed that the catalytic efficiency (kcat/Km) of ProRS increased 5-fold in the complex with LeuRS compared with the free enzyme, whereas the Km for proline was unchanged. No significant changes in the steady-state kinetics of LeuRS aminoacylation were observed upon the addition of ProRS. These findings indicate that ProRS and LeuRS associate in M. thermautotrophicus and suggest that this interaction contributes to translational fidelity by enhancing tRNA aminoacylation by ProRS.
Minichromosome maintenance (MCM) helicases are the presumptive replicative helicases, thought to separate the two strands of chromosomal DNA during replication. In archaea, the catalytic activity resides within the C-terminal region of the MCM protein. In Methanothermobacter thermautotrophicus the N-terminal portion of the protein was shown to be involved in protein multimerization and binding to single and double stranded DNA. MCM homologues from many archaeal species have highly conserved predicted amino acid similarity in a loop located between β7 and β8 in the N-terminal part of the molecule. This high degree of conservation suggests a functional role for the loop. Mutational analysis and biochemical characterization of the conserved residues suggest that the loop participates in communication between the N-terminal portion of the helicase and the C-terminal catalytic domain. Since similar residues are also conserved in the eukaryotic MCM proteins, the data presented here suggest a similar coupling between the N-terminal and catalytic domain of the eukaryotic enzyme.
The MCM gene from the archaeon Halobacterium, with and without its intein, was cloned into an Escherichia coli expression vector, overexpressed and the protein was purified and antibodies were generated. The antibodies were used to demonstrate that in vivo only the processed enzyme, without the intein, could be detected.
The mini-chromosome maintenance (MCM) complex is the principal candidate for the replicative helicase of archaea and eukaryotes. Here, we describe a functional dissection of the roles of the three principal structural modules of the homomultimeric MCM of the hyperthermophilic archaeon Sulfolobus solfataricus. Our results include the first analysis of the central AAA+ domain in isolation. This domain possesses ATPase and helicase activity, defining this as the minimal helicase domain. Reconstitution experiments show that the helicase activity of the AAA+ domain can be stimulated by addition of the isolated N-terminal half in trans. Addition of the N-terminus influences both the processivity of the helicase and the choice of substrate that can be melted by the ATPase domain. The degenerate helix-turn-helix domain at the C-terminus of MCM exerts a negative effect on the helicase activity of the complex. These results provide the first evidence for extensive regulatory inter-domain communication within the MCM complex.
Helicases play essential roles in many cellular processes including replication, transcription and translation. Most helicases translocate along one strand of the duplex while displacing the complementary strand (of either DNA or RNA). Thus, helicases have directionality. They move along nucleic acids in either the 3'→ 5' or 5'→ 3' direction. The directionality of helicases with low activity or of those that cannot initiate duplex unwinding from a substrate that contains only one single-stranded overhang region is difficult to determine.
An improved assay to determine helicase directionality was developed that uses a substrate containing biotinylated oligonucleotides. As a proof of concept, it was shown that the substrates substantially improve helicase activity and directionality determination for several DNA helicases in comparison to more traditional substrates. In addition, a universal substrate that can be used to determine the directionality of both 3'→ 5' and 5'→ 3' helicases was developed.
It is shown here that the use of a biotin-streptavidin complex as a helicase substrate improves helicase activity and the determination of helicase directionality. The method described is simpler that the currently available techniques.
Replicative DNA helicases are ring-shaped hexamers that play an essential role in chromosomal DNA replication. They unwind the two strands of the duplex DNA and provide the single-stranded (ss) DNA substrate for the polymerase. The minichromosome maintenance (MCM) proteins are thought to function as the replicative helicases in eukarya and archaea. The proteins of only a few archaeal organisms have been studied and revealed that although all have similar amino acid sequences and overall structures they differ in their biochemical properties. In this report the biochemical properties of the MCM protein from the archaeon Thermoplasma acidophilum is described. The enzyme has weak helicase activity on a substrate containing only a 3′-ssDNA overhang region and the protein requires a forked DNA structure for efficient helicase activity. It was also found that the helicase activity is stimulated by one of the two T.acidophilum Cdc6 homologues. This is an interesting observation as it is in sharp contrast to observations made with MCM and Cdc6 homologues from other archaea in which the helicase activity is inhibited when bound to Cdc6.
The Cdc6 proteins from the archaeon Methanothermobacter thermautotrophicus were previously shown to bind double-stranded DNA. It is shown here that the proteins also bind single-stranded DNA. Using minichromosome maintenance (MCM) helicase mutant proteins unable to bind DNA, it was found that the interaction of MCM with Cdc6 inhibits the DNA binding activity of Cdc6.
The origin recognition complex, Cdc6 and the minichromosome maintenance (MCM) complex play essential roles in the initiation of eukaryotic DNA replication. Homologs of these proteins may play similar roles in archaeal replication initiation. While the interactions among the eukaryotic initiation proteins are well documented, the protein–protein interactions between the archaeal proteins have not yet been determined. Here, an extensive structural and functional analysis of the interactions between the Methanothermobacter thermautotrophicus MCM and the two Cdc6 proteins (Cdc6-1 and -2) identified in the organism is described. The main contact between Cdc6 and MCM occurs via the N-terminal portion of the MCM protein. It was found that Cdc6–MCM interaction, but not Cdc6–DNA binding, plays the predominant role in regulating MCM helicase activity. In addition, the data showed that the interactions with MCM modulate the autophosphorylation of Cdc6-1 and -2. The results also suggest that MCM and DNA may compete for Cdc6-1 protein binding. The implications of these observations for the initiation of archaeal DNA replication are discussed.
DNA helicases play essential roles in many cellular processes. The currently available techniques to generate substrates for helicase assays are fairly complicated and need some expertise not available in all laboratories. Here, a PCR-based method to generate a substrate for a helicase assay is described, and its application for several archaeal, bacterial and viral enzymes is demonstrated.
The initiator protein Cdc6 (Cdc18 in fission yeast) plays an essential role in the initiation of eukaryotic DNA replication. In yeast the protein is expressed before initiation of DNA replication and is thought to be essential for loading of the helicase onto origin DNA. The biochemical properties of the protein, however, are largely unknown. Using three archaeal homologues of Cdc6, it was found that the proteins are autophosphorylated on Ser residues. The winged-helix domain at the C terminus of Cdc6 interacts with DNA, which apparently regulates the autophosphorylation reaction. Yeast Cdc18 was also found to autophosphorylate, suggesting that this function of Cdc6 may play a widely conserved and essential role in replication initiation.
We report the production, purification and characterization of a DNA ligase encoded by the thermophilic archaeon Methanobacterium thermoautotrophicum. The 561 amino acid Mth ligase catalyzed strand-joining on a singly nicked DNA in the presence of a divalent cation (magnesium, manganese or cobalt) and ATP (Km 1.1 µM). dATP can substitute for ATP, but CTP, GTP, UTP and NAD+ cannot. Mth ligase activity is thermophilic in vitro, with optimal nick-joining at 60°C. Mutational analysis of the conserved active site motif I (KxDG) illuminated essential roles for Lys251 and Asp253 at different steps of the ligation reaction. Mutant K251A is unable to form the covalent ligase–adenylate intermediate (step 1) and hence cannot seal a 3′-OH/5′-PO4 nick. Yet, K251A catalyzes phosphodiester bond formation at a pre-adenylated nick (step 3). Mutant D253A is active in ligase–adenylate formation, but defective in activating the nick via formation of the DNA–adenylate intermediate (step 2). D253A is also impaired in phosphodiester bond formation at a pre-adenylated nick. A profound step 3 arrest, with accumulation of high levels of DNA–adenylate, could be elicited for the wild-type Mth ligase by inclusion of calcium as the divalent cation cofactor. Mth ligase sediments as a monomer in a glycerol gradient. Structure probing by limited proteolysis suggested that Mth ligase is a tightly folded protein punctuated by a surface-accessible loop between nucleotidyl transferase motifs III and IIIa.