[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Single-stranded DNA-binding protein (SSB) is a well characterized ubiquitous and essential bacterial protein involved in almost all aspects of DNA metabolism. Using the Bacillus subtilis SSB we have generated a reagentless SSB biosensor that can be used as a helicase probe in B. subtilis and closely related gram positive bacteria. We have demonstrated the utility of the probe in a DNA unwinding reaction using a helicase from Bacillus and for the first time, characterized the B. subtilis SSB's DNA binding mode switching and stoichiometry. The importance of SSB in DNA metabolism is not limited to simply binding and protecting ssDNA during DNA replication, as previously thought. It interacts with an array of partner proteins to coordinate many different aspects of DNA metabolism. In most cases its interactions with partner proteins is species-specific and for this reason, knowing how to produce and use cognate reagentless SSB biosensors in different bacteria is critical. Here we explain how to produce a B. subtilis SSB probe that exhibits 9-fold fluorescence increase upon binding to single stranded DNA and can be used in all related gram positive firmicutes which employ drastically different DNA replication and repair systems than the widely studied Escherichia coli. The materials to produce the B. subtilis SSB probe are commercially available, so the methodology described here is widely available unlike previously published methods for the E. coli SSB.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Bacillus subtilis has two replicative DNA polymerases. PolC is a processive high-fidelity replicative polymerase, while the error-prone DnaEBs extends RNA primers before hand-off to PolC at the lagging strand. We show that DnaEBs interacts with the replicative helicase DnaC and primase DnaG in a ternary complex. We characterize their activities and analyse the functional significance of their interactions using primase, helicase and primer extension assays, and a 'stripped down' reconstituted coupled assay to investigate the coordinated displacement of the parental duplex DNA at a replication fork, synthesis of RNA primers along the lagging strand and hand-off to DnaEBs. The DnaG-DnaEBs hand-off takes place after de novo polymerization of only two ribonucleotides by DnaG, and does not require other replication proteins. Furthermore, the fidelity of DnaEBs is improved by DnaC and DnaG, likely via allosteric effects induced by direct protein-protein interactions that lower the efficiency of nucleotide mis-incorporations and/or the efficiency of extension of mis-aligned primers in the catalytic site of DnaEBs. We conclude that de novo RNA primer synthesis by DnaG and initial primer extension by DnaEBs are carried out by a lagging strand-specific subcomplex comprising DnaG, DnaEBs and DnaC, which stimulates chromosomal replication with enhanced fidelity.
Nucleic Acids Research 04/2013; · 8.28 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The clamp-loader complex plays a crucial role in DNA replication by loading the β-clamp onto primed DNA to be used by the replicative polymerase. Relatively little is known about the stoichiometry, structure and assembly pathway of this complex, and how it interacts with the replicative helicase, in Gram-positive organisms. Analysis of full and partial complexes by mass spectrometry revealed that a hetero-pentameric τ3-δ-δ′ Bacillus subtilis clamp-loader assembles via multiple pathways, which differ from those exhibited by the Gram-negative model Escherichia coli. Based on this information, a homology model of the B. subtilis τ3-δ-δ′ complex was constructed, which revealed the spatial positioning of the full C-terminal τ domain. The structure of the δ subunit was determined by X-ray crystallography and shown to differ from that of E. coli in the nature of the amino acids comprising the τ and δ′ binding regions. Most notably, the τ-δ interaction appears to be hydrophilic in nature compar
Nucleic Acids Research 01/2013; · 8.28 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Interactions between commensal pathogens and hosts are critical for disease development but the underlying mechanisms for switching between the commensal and virulent states are unknown. We show that the human pathogen Neisseria meningitidis, the leading cause of pyogenic meningitis, can modulate gene expression via uptake of host pro-inflammatory cytokines leading to increased virulence. This uptake is mediated by type IV pili (Tfp) and reliant on the PilT ATPase activity. Two Tfp subunits, PilE and PilQ, are identified as the ligands for TNF-α and IL-8 in a glycan-dependent manner, and their deletion results in decreased virulence and increased survival in a mouse model. We propose a novel mechanism by which pathogens use the twitching motility mode of the Tfp machinery for sensing and importing host elicitors, aligning with the inflamed environment and switching to the virulent state.
Open Biology 01/2013; 3(10):130048. · 3.27 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Much of our knowledge of the initiation of DNA replication comes from studies in the Gram-negative model organism Escherichia coli. However, the location and structure of the origin of replication within the E. coli genome and the identification and study of the proteins which constitute the E. coli initiation complex suggest that it might not be as universal as once thought. The archetypal low-G+C-content Gram-positive Firmicutes initiate DNA replication via a unique primosomal machinery, quite distinct from that seen in E. coli, and an examination of oriC in the Firmicutes species Bacillus subtilis indicates that it might provide a better model for the ancestral bacterial origin of replication. Therefore, the study of replication initiation in organisms other than E. coli, such as B. subtilis, will greatly advance our knowledge and understanding of these processes as a whole. In this minireview, we highlight the structure-function relationships of the Firmicutes primosomal proteins, discuss the significance of their oriC architecture, and present a model for replication initiation at oriC.
Journal of bacteriology 07/2012; 194(19):5162-70. · 3.94 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Threading of DNA through the central channel of a replicative ring helicase is known as helicase loading, and is a pivotal event during replication initiation at replication origins. Once loaded, the helicase recruits the primase through a direct protein-protein interaction to complete the initial 'priming step' of DNA replication. Subsequent assembly of the polymerases and processivity factors completes the structure of the replisome. Two replisomes are assembled, one on each strand, and move in opposite directions to replicate the parental DNA during the 'elongation step' of DNA replication. Replicative helicases are the motor engines of replisomes powered by the conversion of chemical energy to mechanical energy through ATP binding and hydrolysis. Bidirectional loading of two ring helicases at a replication origin is achieved by strictly regulated and intricately choreographed mechanisms, often through the action of replication initiation and helicase-loader proteins. Current structural and biochemical data reveal a wide range of different helicase-loading mechanisms. Here we review advances in this area and discuss their implications.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Bacterial nucleoid associated proteins play a variety of roles in genome maintenance and dynamics. Their involvement in genome packaging, DNA replication and transcription are well documented but it is still unclear whether they play any specific roles in genome repair. We discovered that untwisting of the DNA double helix by bacterial non-specific DNA binding proteins stimulates the activity of a repair endonuclease of the Nth/MutY family involved in abasic site removal during base excision repair. The essential Bacillus subtilis primosomal gene dnaD, coding for a protein with DNA-untwisting activity, is in the same operon with nth and the promoter activity of this operon is transiently stimulated by H(2)O(2). Consequently, dnaD mRNA levels persist high upon treatment with H(2)O(2) compared to the reduced mRNA levels of the other essential primosomal genes dnaB and dnaI, suggesting that DnaD may play an important role in DNA repair in addition to its essential role in replication initiation. Homologous Nth repair endonucleases are found in nearly all organisms, including humans. Our data have wider implications for DNA repair as they suggest that genome associated proteins that alter the superhelicity of the DNA indirectly facilitate base excision repair mediated by repair endonucleases of the Nth/MutY family.
Nucleic Acids Research 09/2011; 40(2):739-50. · 8.28 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Head-on encounters between the replication and transcription machineries on the lagging DNA strand can lead to replication fork arrest and genomic instability. To avoid head-on encounters, most genes, especially essential and highly transcribed genes, are encoded on the leading strand such that transcription and replication are co-directional. Virtually all bacteria have the highly expressed ribosomal RNA genes co-directional with replication. In bacteria, co-directional encounters seem inevitable because the rate of replication is about 10-20-fold greater than the rate of transcription. However, these encounters are generally thought to be benign. Biochemical analyses indicate that head-on encounters are more deleterious than co-directional encounters and that in both situations, replication resumes without the need for any auxiliary restart proteins, at least in vitro. Here we show that in vivo, co-directional transcription can disrupt replication, leading to the involvement of replication restart proteins. We found that highly transcribed rRNA genes are hotspots for co-directional conflicts between replication and transcription in rapidly growing Bacillus subtilis cells. We observed a transcription-dependent increase in association of the replicative helicase and replication restart proteins where head-on and co-directional conflicts occur. Our results indicate that there are co-directional conflicts between replication and transcription in vivo. Furthermore, in contrast to the findings in vitro, the replication restart machinery is involved in vivo in resolving potentially deleterious encounters due to head-on and co-directional conflicts. These conflicts probably occur in many organisms and at many chromosomal locations and help to explain the presence of important auxiliary proteins involved in replication restart and in helping to clear a path along the DNA for the replisome.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In response to environmental and nutritional stimuli, a whole array of proteins remodel genome architecture, activate or transcribe genes, suppress genes, repair lesions and base-modifications, faithfully replicate and safely separate the parental and daughter genomes during cell division. Negotiating and resolving conflicts of genome trafficking is essential for genome stability.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Bacterial primase is stimulated by replicative helicase to produce RNA primers that are essential for DNA replication. To identify mechanisms regulating primase activity, we characterized primase initiation specificity and interactions with the replicative helicase for gram-positive Firmicutes (Staphylococcus, Bacillus and Geobacillus) and gram-negative Proteobacteria (Escherichia, Yersinia and Pseudomonas). Contributions of the primase zinc-binding domain, RNA polymerase domain and helicase-binding domain on de novo primer synthesis were determined using mutated, truncated, chimeric and wild-type primases. Key residues in the β4 strand of the primase zinc-binding domain defined class-associated trinucleotide recognition and substitution of these amino acids transferred specificity across classes. A change in template recognition provided functional evidence for interaction in trans between the zinc-binding domain and RNA polymerase domain of two separate primases. Helicase binding to the primase C-terminal helicase-binding domain modulated RNA primer length in a species-specific manner and productive interactions paralleled genetic relatedness. Results demonstrated that primase template specificity is conserved within a bacterial class, whereas the primase-helicase interaction has co-evolved within each species.
Nucleic Acids Research 11/2010; 38(20):7167-78. · 8.28 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: DnaD and DnaB are essential DNA-replication-initiation proteins in low-G+C content Gram-positive bacteria. Here we use sensitive Hidden Markov Model-based techniques to show that the DnaB and DnaD proteins share a common structure that is evident across all their structural domains, termed DDBH1 and DDBH2 (DnaD DnaB Homology 1 and 2). Despite strong sequence divergence, many of the DNA-binding and oligomerization properties of these domains have been conserved. Although eluding simple sequence comparisons, the DDBH2 domains share the only strong sequence motif; an extremely highly conserved YxxxIxxxW sequence that contributes to DNA binding. Sequence alignments of DnaD alone fail to identify another key part of the DNA-binding module, since it includes a poorly conserved sequence, a solvent-exposed and somewhat unstable helix and a mobile segment. We show by NMR, in vitro mutagenesis and in vivo complementation experiments that the DNA-binding module of Bacillus subtilis DnaD comprises the YxxxIxxxW motif, the unstable helix and a portion of the mobile region, the latter two being essential for viability. These structural insights lead us to a re-evaluation of the oligomerization and DNA-binding properties of the DnaD and DnaB proteins.
Nucleic Acids Research 11/2010; 38(20):6930-42. · 8.28 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Initiation of bacterial DNA replication at oriC is mediated by primosomal proteins that act cooperatively to melt an AT-rich region where the replicative helicase is loaded prior to the assembly of the replication fork. In Bacillus subtilis, the dnaD, dnaB and dnaI genes are essential for initiation of DNA replication. We established that their mRNAs are maintained in fast growing asynchronous cultures. DnaB is truncated at its C-terminus in a growth phase-dependent manner. Proteolysis is confined to cytosolic, not to membrane-associated DnaB, and affects oligomerization. Truncated DnaB is depleted at the oriC relative to the native protein. We propose that DNA-induced oligomerization is essential for its action at oriC and proteolysis regulates its localization at oriC. We show that DnaB has two separate ssDNA-binding sites one located within residues 1-300 and another between residues 365-428, and a dsDNA-binding site within residues 365-428. Tetramerization of DnaB is mediated within residues 1-300, and DNA-dependent oligomerization within residues 365-428. Finally, we show that association of DnaB with the oriC is asymmetric and extensive. It encompasses an area from the middle of dnaA to the end of yaaA that includes the AT-rich region melted during the initiation stage of DNA replication.
Nucleic Acids Research 05/2010; 38(9):2851-64. · 8.28 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Plasmid encoded replication initiation (Rep) proteins recruit host helicases to plasmid replication origins. Previously, we showed that RepD recruits directionally the PcrA helicase to the pC221 oriD, remains associated with it, and increases its processivity during plasmid unwinding. Here we show that RepD forms a complex extending upstream and downstream of the core oriD. Binding of RepD causes remodelling of a region upstream from the core oriD forming a 'landing pad' for the PcrA. PcrA is recruited by this extended RepD-DNA complex via an interaction with RepD at this upstream site. PcrA appears to have weak affinity for this region even in the absence of RepD. Upon binding of ADPNP (non-hydrolysable analogue of ATP), by PcrA, a conformational rearrangement of the RepD-PcrA-ATP initiation complex confines it strictly within the boundaries of the core oriD. We conclude that RepD-mediated recruitment of PcrA at oriD is a three step process. First, an extended RepD-oriD complex includes a region upstream from the core oriD; second, the PcrA is recruited to this upstream region and thirdly upon ATP-binding PcrA relocates within the core oriD.
Nucleic Acids Research 04/2010; 38(6):1874-88. · 8.28 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: During DNA replication the helicase (DnaB) recruits the primase (DnaG) in the replisome to initiate the polymerization of new DNA strands. DnaB is attached to the tau subunit of the clamp-loader that loads the beta clamp and interconnects the core polymerases on the leading and lagging strands. The tau-DnaB-DnaG ternary complex is at the heart of the replisome and its function is likely to be modulated by a complex network of allosteric interactions. Using a stable ternary complex comprising the primase and helicase from Geobacillus stearothermophilus and the tau subunit of the clamp-loader from Bacillus subtilis we show that changes in the DnaB-tau interaction can stimulate allosterically primer synthesis by DnaG in vitro. The A550V tau mutant stimulates the primase activity more efficiently than the native protein. Truncation of the last 18 C-terminal residues of tau elicits a DnaG-stimulatory effect in vitro that appears to be suppressed in the native tau protein. Thus changes in the tau-DnaB interaction allosterically affect primer synthesis. Although these C-terminal residues of tau are not involved directly in the interaction with DnaB, they may act as a functional gateway for regulation of primer synthesis by tau-interacting components of the replisome through the tau-DnaB-DnaG pathway.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: During DNA replication the helicase (DnaB) recruits the primase (DnaG) in the replisome to initiate the polymerization of new DNA strands. DnaB is attached to the τ subunit of the clamp-loader that loads the β clamp and interconnects the core polymerases on the leading and lagging strands. The τ–DnaB−DnaG ternary complex is at the heart of the replisome and its function is likely to be modulated by a complex network of allosteric interactions. Using a stable ternary complex comprising the primase and helicase from Geobacillus stearothermophilus and the τ subunit of the clamp-loader from Bacillus subtilis we show that changes in the DnaB–τ interaction can stimulate allosterically primer synthesis by DnaG in vitro. The A550V τ mutant stimulates the primase activity more efficiently than the native protein. Truncation of the last 18 C-terminal residues of τ elicits a DnaG-stimulatory effect in vitro that appears to be suppressed in the native τ protein. Thus changes in the τ–DnaB interaction allosterically affect primer synthesis. Although these C-terminal residues of τ are not involved directly in the interaction with DnaB, they may act as a functional gateway for regulation of primer synthesis by τ-interacting components of the replisome through the τ–DnaB−DnaG pathway.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Escherichia coli MelR protein is a transcription activator that autoregulates its own promoter by repressing transcription initiation. Optimal repression requires MelR binding to a site that overlaps the melR transcription start point and to upstream sites. In this work, we have investigated the different determinants needed for optimal repression and their spatial requirements. We show that repression requires a complex involving four DNA-bound MelR molecules, and that the global CRP regulator plays little or no role.
Nucleic Acids Research 06/2008; 36(8):2667-76. · 8.28 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The bacterial primosome comprises the replicative homo-hexameric ring helicase DnaB and the primase DnaG. It is an integral component of the replisome as it unwinds the parental DNA duplex to allow progression of the replication fork, synthesizes the initiation primers at the replication origin, oriC, and the primers required for Okazaki fragment synthesis during lagging strand replication. The interaction between the two component proteins is mediated by a distinct C-terminal domain (p16) of the primase. Both proteins mutually regulate each other's activities and a putative network of conserved residues has been proposed to mediate these effects. We have targeted 10 residues from this network. To investigate the functional contributions of these residues to the primase, ATPase and helicase activities of the primosome, we have used site-directed mutagenesis and in vitro functional assays. Five of these residues (E464, H494, R495, Y548 and R555) exhibited some functional significance while the remaining five (E483, R484, E506, D512 and E530) exhibited no effects. E464 participates in functional modulation of the primase activity, whereas H494, R495 and R555 participate in allosteric functional modulation of the ATPase and/or helicase activities. Y548 contributes directly to the structural interaction with DnaB.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Bacillus subtilis DnaD is an essential DNA-binding protein implicated in replication and DNA remodeling. Using single-molecule atomic force spectroscopy, we have studied the interaction of DnaD and its domains with DNA. Our data reveal that binding of DnaD to immobilized single molecules of duplex DNA causes a marked reduction in the 'end-to-end' distance of the DNA in a concentration-dependent manner, consistent with previously reported DnaD-induced looping by scaffold formation. Native DnaD enhances partial melting of the DNA strands. The C-terminal domain (Cd) of DnaD binds to DNA and enhances partial duplex melting but does not cause DNA looping. The Cd-mediated melting is not as efficient as that caused by native DnaD. The N-terminal domain (Nd) does not affect significantly the DNA. A mixture of Nd and Cd fails to recreate the DNA looping effect of native DnaD but produces exactly the same effects as Cd on its own, consistent with the previously reported failure of the separated domains to form DNA-interacting scaffolds.
Journal of Molecular Biology 04/2008; 377(3):706-14. · 3.91 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: DnaD is a primosomal protein that remodels supercoiled plasmids. It binds to supercoiled forms and converts them to open forms without nicking. During this remodeling process, all the writhe is converted to twist and the plasmids are held around the periphery of large scaffolds made up of DnaD molecules. This DNA-remodeling function is the sum of a scaffold-forming activity on the N-terminal domain and a DNA-dependent oligomerization activity on the C-terminal domain. We have determined the crystal structure of the scaffold-forming N-terminal domain, which reveals a winged-helix architecture, with additional structural elements extending from both N- and C-termini. Four monomers form dimers that join into a tetramer. The N-terminal extension mediates dimerization and tetramerization, with extensive interactions and distinct interfaces. The wings and helices of the winged-helix domains remain exposed on the surface of the tetramer. Structure-guided mutagenesis and atomic force microscopy imaging indicate that these elements, together with the C-terminal extension, are involved in scaffold formation. Based upon our data, we propose a model for the DnaD-mediated scaffold formation.
Journal of Molecular Biology 04/2008; 376(5):1237-50. · 3.91 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The replication initiator protein RepD recruits the Bacillus PcrA helicase directly onto the (-) strand of the plasmid replication origin oriD. The 5'-phosphate group at the nick is essential for loading, suggesting that it is the RepD covalently linked to the 5'-phosphate group at the nick that loads the helicase onto the oriD. The products of the unwinding reaction were visualised by atomic force microscopy (AFM) and monitored in real time by fluorescence spectroscopy. RepD remains associated with PcrA and stimulates processive directional unwinding of the plasmid at approximately 60 bp s(-1). In the absence of RepD, PcrA retains the ability to bind to a pre-nicked oriD, but engages the 3' end of the nick and translocates 3'-5' along the (+) strand in a poorly processive fashion. Our data provide a unique insight into the recruitment of PcrA-like helicases to DNA-nick sites and the processive translocation of the PcrA motor as a component of the plasmid replication apparatus.
Journal of Molecular Biology 09/2007; 371(2):336-48. · 3.91 Impact Factor