Dam-dependent phase variation of Ag43 in Escherichia coli is altered in a seqA mutant.
ABSTRACT In Escherichia coli, phase variation of the outer membrane protein Ag43 encoded by the agn43 gene is mediated by DNA methylation and the global regulator OxyR. Transcription of agn43 occurs (ON phase) when three Dam target sequences in the agn43 regulatory region are methylated, which prevents the repressor OxyR from binding. Conversely, transcription is repressed (OFF) when these Dam target sequences are unmethylated and OxyR binds. A change in expression phase requires a concomitant change in the DNA methylation state of these Dam target sequences. To gain insight into the process of inheritance of the expression phase and the DNA methylation state, protein-DNA interactions at agn43 were examined. Binding of OxyR at agn43 was sufficient to protect the three GATC sequences contained within its binding site from Dam-dependent methylation in vitro, suggesting that no other factors are required to maintain the unmethylated state and OFF phase. To maintain the methylated state of the ON phase, however, Dam must access the hemimethylated agn43 region after DNA replication, and OxyR binding must not occur. OxyR bound hemimethylated agn43 DNA, but the affinity was severalfold lower than for unmethylated DNA. This presumably contributes to the maintenance of the methylated state but, at the same time, may allow for infrequent OxyR binding and a switch to the OFF phase. Hemimethylated agn43 DNA was also a binding substrate for the sequestration protein SeqA. Thus, SeqA, OxyR and Dam may compete for the same hemimethylated agn43 DNA that is formed after DNA replication in an ON phase cell. In isolates with a mutant seqA allele, agn43 phase variation rates were altered and resulted in a bias to the OFF phase. In part, this can be attributed to the observed decrease in the level of DNA methylation in the seqA mutant.
Article: An epigenetic switch involving overlapping fur and DNA methylation optimizes expression of a type VI secretion gene cluster.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Type VI secretion systems (T6SS) are macromolecular machines of the cell envelope of Gram-negative bacteria responsible for bacterial killing and/or virulence towards different host cells. Here, we characterized the regulatory mechanism underlying expression of the enteroagregative Escherichia coli sci1 T6SS gene cluster. We identified Fur as the main regulator of the sci1 cluster. A detailed analysis of the promoter region showed the presence of three GATC motifs, which are target of the DNA adenine methylase Dam. Using a combination of reporter fusion, gel shift, and in vivo and in vitro Dam methylation assays, we dissected the regulatory role of Fur and Dam-dependent methylation. We showed that the sci1 gene cluster expression is under the control of an epigenetic switch depending on methylation: fur binding prevents methylation of a GATC motif, whereas methylation at this specific site decreases the affinity of Fur for its binding box. A model is proposed in which the sci1 promoter is regulated by iron availability, adenine methylation, and DNA replication.PLoS Genetics 07/2011; 7(7):e1002205. · 8.69 Impact Factor