[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: CsdA is one of five E. coli DEAD-box helicases and as a cold-shock protein assists RNA structural remodeling at low temperatures. The helicase has been shown to catalyze duplex unwinding in an ATP-dependent way and accelerate annealing of complementary RNAs, but detailed kinetic analyses are missing. Therefore, we performed kinetic measurements using a coupled annealing and strand displacement assay with high temporal resolution to analyze how CsdA balances the two converse activities. We furthermore tested the hypothesis that the unwinding activity of DEAD-box helicases is largely determined by the substrate's thermodynamic stability using full-length CsdA and a set of RNAs with constant length, but increasing GC content. The rate constants for strand displacement did indeed decrease with increasing duplex stability, with a calculated free energy between -31.3 and -40 kcal/mol being the limit for helix unwinding. Thus, our data generally support the above hypothesis, showing that for CsdA substrate thermal stability is an important rate limiting factor.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Folding of RNA molecules into their functional three-dimensional structures is often supported by RNA chaperones, some of which can catalyse the two elementary reactions helix disruption and helix formation. Hfq is one such RNA chaperone, but its strand displacement activity is controversial. Whereas some groups found Hfq to destabilize secondary structures, others did not observe such an activity with their RNA substrates. We studied Hfq's activities using a set of short RNAs of different thermodynamic stabilities (GC-contents from 4.8% to 61.9%), but constant length. We show that Hfq's strand displacement as well as its annealing activity are strongly dependent on the substrate's GC-content. However, this is due to Hfq's preferred binding of AU-rich sequences and not to the substrate's thermodynamic stability. Importantly, Hfq catalyses both annealing and strand displacement with comparable rates for different substrates, hinting at RNA strand diffusion and annealing nucleation being rate-limiting for both reactions. Hfq's strand displacement activity is a result of the thermodynamic destabilization of the RNA through preferred single-strand binding whereas annealing acceleration is independent from Hfq's thermodynamic influence. Therefore, the two apparently disparate activities annealing acceleration and duplex destabilization are not in energetic conflict with each other.
Nucleic Acids Research 10/2012; · 8.81 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In enteric bacteria, many small regulatory RNAs (sRNAs) associate with the RNA chaperone host factor Q (Hfq) and often require the protein for regulation of target mRNAs. Previous studies suggested that the hexameric Escherichia coli Hfq (Hfq(Ec)) binds sRNAs on the proximal site, whereas the distal site has been implicated in Hfq-mRNA interactions. Employing a combination of small angle X-ray scattering, nuclear magnetic resonance and biochemical approaches, we report the structural analysis of a 1:1 complex of Hfq(Ec) with a 34-nt-long subsequence of a natural substrate sRNA, DsrA (DsrA(34)). This sRNA is involved in post-transcriptional regulation of the E. coli rpoS mRNA encoding the stationary phase sigma factor RpoS. The molecular envelopes of Hfq(Ec) in complex with DsrA(34) revealed an overall asymmetric shape of the complex in solution with the protein maintaining its doughnut-like structure, whereas the extended DsrA(34) is flexible and displays an ensemble of different spatial arrangements. These results are discussed in terms of a model, wherein the structural flexibility of RNA ligands bound to Hfq stochastically facilitates base pairing and provides the foundation for the RNA chaperone function inherent to Hfq.
Nucleic Acids Research 06/2012; 40(16):8072-8084. · 8.81 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In Escherichia coli the RNA chaperone Hfq is involved in riboregulation by assisting base-pairing between small regulatory RNAs (sRNAs) and mRNA targets. Several structural and biochemical studies revealed RNA binding sites on either surface of the donut shaped Hfq-hexamer. Whereas sRNAs are believed to contact preferentially the YKH motifs present on the proximal site, poly(A)(15) and ADP were shown to bind to tripartite binding motifs (ARE) circularly positioned on the distal site. Hfq has been reported to bind and to hydrolyze ATP. Here, we present the crystal structure of a C-terminally truncated variant of E. coli Hfq (Hfq(65)) in complex with ATP, showing that it binds to the distal R-sites. In addition, we revisited the reported ATPase activity of full length Hfq purified to homogeneity. At variance with previous reports, no ATPase activity was observed for Hfq. In addition, FRET assays neither indicated an impact of ATP on annealing of two model oligoribonucleotides nor did the presence of ATP induce strand displacement. Moreover, ATP did not lead to destabilization of binary and ternary Hfq-RNA complexes, unless a vast stoichiometric excess of ATP was used. Taken together, these studies strongly suggest that ATP is dispensable for and does not interfere with Hfq-mediated RNA transactions.
PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(11):e50892. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The structure of full-length host factor Qβ (Hfq) from Escherichia coli obtained from a crystal belonging to space group P1, with unit-cell parameters a = 61.91, b = 62.15, c = 81.26 Å, α = 78.6, β = 86.2, γ = 59.9°, was solved by molecular replacement to a resolution of 2.85 Å and refined to R(work) and R(free) values of 20.7% and 25.0%, respectively. Hfq from E. coli has previously been crystallized and the structure has been solved for the N-terminal 72 amino acids, which cover ~65% of the full-length sequence. Here, the purification, crystallization and structural data of the full 102-amino-acid protein are presented. These data revealed that the presence of the C-terminus changes the crystal packing of E. coli Hfq. The crystal structure is discussed in the context of the recently published solution structure of Hfq from E. coli.
Acta Crystallographica Section F Structural Biology and Crystallization Communications 05/2011; 67(Pt 5):536-40. · 0.55 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The hexameric Escherichia coli RNA chaperone Hfq (Hfq(Ec)) is involved in riboregulation of target mRNAs by small trans-encoded RNAs. Hfq proteins of different bacteria comprise an evolutionarily conserved core, whereas the C-terminus is variable in length. Although the structure of the conserved core has been elucidated for several Hfq proteins, no structural information has yet been obtained for the C-terminus. Using bioinformatics, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, synchrotron radiation circular dichroism (SRCD) spectroscopy and small angle X-ray scattering we provide for the first time insights into the conformation and dynamic properties of the C-terminal extension of Hfq(Ec). These studies indicate that the C-termini are flexible and extend laterally away from the hexameric core, displaying in this way features typical of intrinsically disordered proteins that facilitate intermolecular interactions. We identified a minimal, intrinsically disordered region of the C-terminus supporting the interactions with longer RNA fragments. This minimal region together with rest of the C-terminal extension provides a flexible moiety capable of tethering long and structurally diverse RNA molecules. Furthermore, SRCD spectroscopy supported the hypothesis that RNA fragments exceeding a certain length interact with the C-termini of Hfq(Ec).
Nucleic Acids Research 02/2011; 39(11):4900-15. · 8.81 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: At low temperature, translational activation of rpoS mRNA, encoding the stationary phase sigma-factor, sigma(S), involves the small regulatory RNA (sRNA) DsrA and the RNA chaperone Hfq. The Hfq-mediated DsrA-rpoS interaction relieves an intramolecular secondary structure that impedes ribosome access to the rpoS ribosome binding site. In addition, DsrA/rpoS duplex formation creates an RNase III cleavage site within the duplex. Previous biochemical studies suggested that DsrA and Hfq associate with the 30S ribosomal subunit protein S1, which implied a role for the ribosome in sRNA-mediated post-transcriptional regulation. Here, we show by ribosome profiling that Hfq partitions with the cytoplasmic fraction rather than with 30S subunits. Besides, by employing immunological techniques, no evidence for a physical interaction between Hfq and S1 was obtained. Similarly, in vitro studies did not reveal a direct interaction between DsrA and S1. By employing a ribosome binding deficient rpoS mRNA, and by using the RNase III clevage in the DsrA/rpoS duplex as a diagnostic marker, we provide in vivo evidence that the Hfq-mediated DsrA/rpoS interaction, and consequently the structural changes in rpoS mRNA precede ribosome binding. These data suggest a simple mechanistic model in which translational activation by DsrA provides a translationally competent rpoS mRNA to which 30S subunits can readily bind.
Nucleic Acids Research 12/2009; 38(4):1284-93. · 8.81 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The canonical conformational states occupied by most ligand-gated ion channels, and many cell-surface receptors, are the resting, activated, and desensitized states. While the resting and activated states of multiple receptors are well characterized, elaboration of the structural properties of the desensitized state, a state that is by definition inactive, has proven difficult. Here we use electrical, chemical, and crystallographic experiments on the AMPA-sensitive GluR2 receptor, defining the conformational rearrangements of the agonist binding cores that occur upon desensitization of this ligand-gated ion channel. These studies demonstrate that desensitization involves the rupture of an extensive interface between domain 1 of 2-fold related glutamate-binding core subunits, compensating for the ca. 21 degrees of domain closure induced by glutamate binding. The rupture of the domain 1 interface allows the ion channel to close and thereby provides a simple explanation to the long-standing question of how agonist binding is decoupled from ion channel gating upon receptor desensitization.