[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Transcription initiation that involves the use of a 2-to ~4-nt oligoribonucleotide primer, " primer-dependent initiation, " (PDI) has been shown to be widely prevalent at promoters of genes expressed during the stationary phase of growth in Escherichia coli. However, the extent to which PDI impacts E. coli physiology, and the extent to which PDI occurs in other bacteria is not known. Here we establish a physiological role for PDI in E. coli as a regulatory mechanism that modulates biofilm formation. We further demonstrate using high-throughput sequencing of RNA 5 0 ends (5 0 RNA-seq) that PDI occurs in the pathogenic bacterium Vibrio cholerae. A comparative global analysis of PDI in V. cholerae and E. coli reveals that the pattern of PDI is strikingly similar in the two organisms. In particular, PDI is detected in stationary phase, is not detected in exponential phase, and is preferentially apparent at promoters carrying the sequence T −1 A +1 or G −1 G +1 (where position +1 corresponds to the position of de novo initiation). Our findings demonstrate a physiological role for PDI and suggest PDI may be widespread among Gammaproteobacteria. We propose that PDI in both E. coli and V. cholerae occurs though a growth phase-dependent process that leads to the preferential generation of the linear dinucleotides 5´A-3ánd 5´G-3´uthor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In mammalian cells, programmed cell death (PCD) plays important roles in development, in the removal of damaged cells, and in fighting bacterial infections. Although widespread among multicellular organisms, there are relatively few documented instances of PCD in bacteria. Here we describe a potential PCD pathway in Pseudomonas aeruginosa that enhances the ability of the bacterium to cause disease in a lung infection model. Activation of the system can occur in a subset of cells in response to DNA damage through cleavage of an essential transcription regulator we call AlpR. Cleavage of AlpR triggers a cell lysis program through de-repression of the alpA gene, which encodes a positive regulator that activates expression of the alpBCDE lysis cassette. Although this is lethal to the individual cell in which it occurs, we find it benefits the population as a whole during infection of a mammalian host. Thus, host and pathogen each may use PCD as a survival-promoting strategy. We suggest that activation of the Alp cell lysis pathway is a disease-enhancing response to bacterial DNA damage inflicted by the host immune system.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 06/2015; 112(27). DOI:10.1073/pnas.1506299112 · 9.81 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Bacterial xenogeneic silencing proteins selectively bind to and silence expression from many AT rich regions of the chromosome. They serve as master regulators of horizontally acquired DNA, including a large number of virulence genes. To date, three distinct families of xenogeneic silencers have been identified: H-NS of Proteobacteria, Lsr2 of the Actinomycetes, and MvaT of Pseudomonas sp. Although H-NS and Lsr2 family proteins are structurally different, they all recognize the AT-rich DNA minor groove through a common AT-hook-like motif, which is absent in the MvaT family. Thus, the DNA binding mechanism of MvaT has not been determined. Here, we report the characteristics of DNA sequences targeted by MvaT with protein binding microarrays, which indicates that MvaT prefers binding flexible DNA sequences with multiple TpA steps. We demonstrate that there are clear differences in sequence preferences between MvaT and the other two xenogeneic silencer families. We also determined the structure of the DNA-binding domain of MvaT in complex with a high affinity DNA dodecamer using solution NMR. This is the first experimental structure of a xenogeneic silencer in complex with DNA, which reveals that MvaT recognizes the AT-rich DNA both through base readout by an "AT-pincer" motif inserted into the minor groove and through shape readout by multiple lysine side chains interacting with the DNA sugar-phosphate backbone. Mutations of key MvaT residues for DNA binding confirm their importance with both in vitro and in vivo assays. This novel DNA binding mode enables MvaT to better tolerate GC-base pair interruptions in the binding site and less prefer A tract DNA when compared to H-NS and Lsr2. Comparison of MvaT with other bacterial xenogeneic silencers provides a clear picture that nature has evolved unique solutions for different bacterial genera to distinguish foreign from self DNA.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Francisella tularensis is a Gram-negative bacterium whose ability to replicate within macrophages and cause disease is strictly dependent upon the coordinate activities of three transcription regulators called MglA, SspA, and PigR. MglA and SspA form a complex that associates with RNA polymerase (RNAP), whereas PigR is a putative DNA-binding protein that functions by contacting the MglA-SspA complex. Most transcription activators that bind the DNA are thought to occupy only those promoters whose activities they regulate. Here we show using chromatin immunoprecipitation coupled with high-throughput DNA sequencing (ChIP-Seq) that PigR, MglA, and SspA are found at virtually all promoters in F. tularensis and not just those of regulated genes. Furthermore, we find that the ability of PigR to associate with promoters is dependent upon the presence of MglA, suggesting that interaction with the RNAP-associated MglA-SspA complex is what directs PigR to promoters in F. tularensis. Finally, we present evidence that the ability of PigR (and thus MglA and SspA) to positively control the expression of genes is dictated by a specific 7 base pair sequence element that is present in the promoters of regulated genes. The three principal regulators of virulence gene expression in F. tularensis therefore function in a non-classical manner with PigR interacting with the RNAP-associated MglA-SspA complex at the majority of promoters but only activating transcription from those that contain a specific sequence element. Our findings reveal how transcription factors can exert regulatory effects at a restricted set of promoters despite being associated with most or all. This distinction between occupancy and regulatory effect uncovered by our data may be relevant to the study of RNAP-associated transcription regulators in other pathogenic bacteria.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Pseudomonas aeruginosa contains two distinct members of H-NS family of nucleoid-structuring proteins: MvaT and MvaU. Together, these proteins bind to the same regions of the chromosome and function coordinately in the regulation of hundreds of genes. Due to their structural similarity, they can associate to form heteromeric complexes. These findings left us wondering whether they bear similar DNA binding properties that underlie their gene-silencing functions. Using single-molecule stretching and imaging experiments, we found striking similarities in the DNA organization modes of MvaU compared to the previously studied MvaT. MvaU can form protective nucleoprotein filaments that are insensitive to environmental factors, consistent with its role as a repressor of gene expression. Similar to MvaT, MvaU filament can mediate DNA bridging while excessive MvaU can cause DNA aggregation. The almost identical DNA organization modes of MvaU and MvaT explain their functional redundancy, and raise an interesting question regarding the evolutionary benefits of having multiple H-NS paralogues in the Pseudomonas genus.
PLoS ONE 11/2014; 9(11):e112246. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0112246 · 3.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In Francisella tularensis, the putative DNA-binding protein PigR works in concert with the SspA protein family members MglA and SspA to control the
expression of genes that are essential for the intramacrophage growth and survival of the organism. MglA and SspA form a complex
that interacts with RNA polymerase (RNAP), and this interaction between the MglA-SspA complex and RNAP is thought to be critical
to its regulatory function. How PigR works in concert with the MglA-SspA complex is not known; previously published findings
differ over whether PigR interacts with the MglA-SspA complex, leading to disparate models for how PigR and the MglA-SspA
complex exert their regulatory effects. Here, using a combination of genetic assays, we identify mutants of MglA and SspA
that are specifically defective for interaction with PigR. Analysis of the MglA and SspA mutants in F. tularensis reveals that interaction between PigR and the MglA-SspA complex is essential in order for PigR to work coordinately with
MglA and SspA to positively regulate the expression of virulence genes. Our findings uncover a surface of the MglA-SspA complex
that is important for interaction with PigR and support the idea that PigR exerts its regulatory effects through an interaction
with the RNAP-associated MglA-SspA complex.
Journal of Bacteriology 07/2014; 196(19). DOI:10.1128/JB.01700-14 · 2.69 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Pathogenicity of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a major cause of many acute and chronic human infections, is determined by tightly regulated expression of multiple virulence factors. Quorum sensing (QS) controls expression of many of these pathogenic determinants. Previous microarray studies have shown that the AmpC β-lactamase regulator AmpR, a member of the LysR family of transcription factors, also controls non-β-lactam resistance and multiple virulence mechanisms. Using RNA-Seq and complementary assays, this study further expands the AmpR regulon to include diverse processes such as oxidative stress, heat shock and iron uptake. Importantly, AmpR affects many of these phenotypes, in part, by regulating expression of non-coding RNAs such as rgP32, asRgsA, asPrrF1 and rgRsmZ. AmpR positively regulates expression of the major QS regulators LasR, RhlR and MvfR, and genes of the Pseudomonas quinolone system. Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP)-Seq and ChIP-quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction studies show that AmpR binds to the ampC promoter both in the absence and presence of β-lactams. In addition, AmpR directly binds the lasR promoter, encoding the QS master regulator. Comparison of the AmpR-binding sequences from the transcriptome and ChIP-Seq analyses identified an AT-rich consensus-binding motif. This study further attests to the role of AmpR in regulating virulence and physiological processes in P. aeruginosa.
Nucleic Acids Research 10/2013; 42(2). DOI:10.1093/nar/gkt942 · 9.11 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Pseudomonas aeruginosa PlcH degrades phosphatidylcholine (PC), an abundant lipid in cell membranes and lung surfactant. A ΔplcHR mutant, known to be defective in virulence in animal models, was less able to colonize epithelial cell monolayers and defective in biofilm formation on plastic when grown in lung surfactant. Microarray analyses found that strains defective in PlcH production had lower levels of Anr-regulated transcripts than the wild type. PC degradation stimulated the Anr regulon in an Anr-dependent manner under conditions where Anr activity was submaximal due to the presence of oxygen. Two PC catabolites, choline and glycine betaine, were sufficient to stimulate Anr activity, and their catabolism was required for Anr activation. The addition of choline or GB to glucose-containing medium did not alter Anr protein levels, growth rates, or respiratory activity, and Anr activation could not be attributed to the osmoprotectant functions of GB. The Δanr mutant was defective in virulence in a mouse pneumonia model. Several lines of evidence indicate that Anr is important for the colonization of biotic and abiotic surfaces in both P. aeruginosa PAO1 and PA14, and that increases in Anr activity resulted in enhanced biofilm formation. Our data suggest that PlcH activity promotes Anr activity in oxic environments, and that Anr activity contributes to virulence, even in acute infections where low oxygen tensions are not expected. This finding highlights the relationship between in vivo bacterial metabolism, the activity of the oxygen-sensitive regulator Anr, and virulence.
Journal of bacteriology 05/2013; 195. DOI:10.1128/JB.02169-12 · 2.69 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Members of the histone-like nucleoid-structuring (H-NS) family of proteins have been shown to play important roles in silencing gene expression and in nucleoid compaction. In Pseudomonas aeruginosa, the two H-NS family members MvaT and MvaU are thought to bind the same AT-rich regions of the chromosome and function coordinately to control a common set of genes. Here we present evidence that the loss of both MvaT and MvaU cannot be tolerated because it results in the production of Pf4 phage that superinfect and kill cells or inhibit their growth. Using a ClpXP-based protein depletion system in combination with transposon mutagenesis, we identify mutants of P. aeruginosa that can tolerate the depletion of MvaT in an ΔmvaU mutant background. Many of these mutants contain insertions in genes encoding components, assembly factors, or regulators of type IV pili or contain insertions in genes of the prophage Pf4. We demonstrate that cells that no longer produce type IV pili or that no longer produce the replicative form of the Pf4 genome can tolerate the loss of both MvaT and MvaU. Furthermore, we show that the loss of both MvaT and MvaU results in an increase in expression of Pf4 genes and that cells that cannot produce type IV pili are resistant to infection by Pf4 phage. Our findings suggest that type IV pili are the receptors for Pf4 phage and that the essential activities of MvaT and MvaU are to repress the expression of Pf4 genes.
Journal of bacteriology 07/2012; 194(18):5101-9. DOI:10.1128/JB.00932-12 · 2.69 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: MvaT from Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a member of the histone-like nucleoid structuring protein (H-NS) family of nucleoid-associated proteins widely spread among Gram-negative bacteria that functions to repress the expression of many genes. Recently, it was reported that H-NS from Escherichia coli can form rigid nucleoproteins filaments on DNA, which are important for their gene-silencing function. This raises a question whether the gene-silencing function of MvaT, which has only ∼18% sequence similarity to H-NS, is also based on the formation of nucleoprotein filaments. Here, using magnetic tweezers and atomic force microscopy imaging, we demonstrate that MvaT binds to DNA through cooperative polymerization to form a nucleoprotein filament that can further organize DNA into hairpins or higher-order compact structures. Furthermore, we studied DNA binding by MvaT mutants that fail to repress gene expression in P. aeruginosa because they are specifically defective for higher-order oligomer formation. We found that, although the mutants can organize DNA into compact structures, they fail to form rigid nucleoprotein filaments. Our findings suggest that higher-order oligomerization of MvaT is required for the formation of rigid nucleoprotein filaments that silence at least some target genes in P. aeruginosa. Further, our findings suggest that formation of nucleoprotein filaments provide a general structural basis for the gene-silencing H-NS family members.
Nucleic Acids Research 07/2012; 40(18):8942-8952. DOI:10.1093/nar/gks669 · 9.11 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Prokaryotic and eukaryotic RNA polymerases can use 2- to ∼4-nt RNAs, "nanoRNAs," to prime transcription initiation in vitro. It has been proposed that nanoRNA-mediated priming of transcription can likewise occur under physiological conditions in vivo and influence transcription start site selection and gene expression. However, no direct evidence of such regulation has been presented. Here we demonstrate in Escherichia coli that nanoRNAs prime transcription in a growth phase-dependent manner, resulting in alterations in transcription start site selection and changes in gene expression. We further define a sequence element that determines, in part, whether a promoter will be targeted by nanoRNA-mediated priming. By establishing that a significant fraction of transcription initiation is primed in living cells, our findings contradict the conventional model that all cellular transcription is initiated using nucleoside triphosphates (NTPs) only. In addition, our findings identify nanoRNAs as a previously undocumented class of regulatory small RNAs that function by being directly incorporated into a target transcript.
Genes & development 07/2012; 26(13):1498-507. DOI:10.1101/gad.192732.112 · 12.64 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The type VI secretion system (T6SS) has emerged as an important mediator of interbacterial interactions. A T6SS from Pseudomonas aeruginosa targets at least three effector proteins, type VI secretion exported 1-3 (Tse1-3), to recipient Gram-negative cells. The Tse2 protein is a cytoplasmic effector that acts as a potent inhibitor of target cell proliferation, thus providing a pronounced fitness advantage for P. aeruginosa donor cells. P. aeruginosa utilizes a dedicated immunity protein, type VI secretion immunity 2 (Tsi2), to protect against endogenous and intercellularly-transferred Tse2. Here we show that Tse2 delivered by the T6SS efficiently induces quiescence, not death, within recipient cells. We demonstrate that despite direct interaction of Tsi2 and Tse2 in the cytoplasm, Tsi2 is dispensable for targeting the toxin to the secretory apparatus. To gain insights into the molecular basis of Tse2 immunity, we solved the 1.00 Å X-ray crystal structure of Tsi2. The structure shows that Tsi2 assembles as a dimer that does not resemble previously characterized immunity or antitoxin proteins. A genetic screen for Tsi2 mutants deficient in Tse2 interaction revealed an acidic patch distal to the Tsi2 homodimer interface that mediates toxin interaction and immunity. Consistent with this finding, we observed that destabilization of the Tsi2 dimer does not impact Tse2 interaction. The molecular insights into Tsi2 structure and function garnered from this study shed light on the mechanisms of T6 effector secretion, and indicate that the Tse2-Tsi2 effector-immunity pair has features distinguishing it from previously characterized toxin-immunity and toxin-antitoxin systems.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Expression of the pneumococcal type 1 pilus is bistable and positively regulated by the transcription factor RlrA. RlrA is also known to positively control its own expression. Here we present evidence that bistable expression of the type 1 pilus is mediated by the positive-feedback loop controlling rlrA expression.
Journal of bacteriology 12/2011; 194(5):1088-91. DOI:10.1128/JB.06078-11 · 2.69 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The CgrA and CgrC proteins of Pseudomonas aeruginosa are coregulators that are required for the phase-variable expression of the cupA fimbrial genes. Neither CgrA nor CgrC resembles a classical transcription regulator, and precisely how these proteins exert their regulatory effects on cupA gene expression is poorly understood. Here, we show that CgrA and CgrC interact with one another directly. We identify a mutant of CgrC that is specifically defective for interaction with CgrA and demonstrate that this mutant cannot restore the phase-variable expression of the cupA fimbrial genes to cells of a cgrC mutant strain. Using this mutant, we also show that CgrC associates with the cupA promoter regardless of whether or not it interacts with CgrA. Our findings establish that interaction between CgrA and CgrC is required for the phase-variable expression of the cupA fimbrial genes and suggest that CgrC exerts its regulatory effects directly at the cupA promoter, possibly by recruiting CgrA. Because the regions of CgrA and CgrC that we have identified as interacting with one another are highly conserved among orthologs, our findings raise the possibility that CgrA- and CgrC-related regulators present in other bacteria function coordinately through a direct protein-protein interaction.
Journal of bacteriology 09/2011; 193(22):6152-61. DOI:10.1128/JB.05904-11 · 2.69 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: It is often presumed that, in vivo, the initiation of RNA synthesis by DNA-dependent RNA polymerases occurs using NTPs alone. Here, using the model Gram-negative bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa, we demonstrate that depletion of the small-RNA-specific exonuclease, Oligoribonuclease, causes the accumulation of oligoribonucleotides 2 to ∼4 nt in length, "nanoRNAs," which serve as primers for transcription initiation at a significant fraction of promoters. Widespread use of nanoRNAs to prime transcription initiation is coupled with global alterations in gene expression. Our results, obtained under conditions in which the concentration of nanoRNAs is artificially elevated, establish that small RNAs can be used to initiate transcription in vivo, challenging the idea that all cellular transcription occurs using only NTPs. Our findings further suggest that nanoRNAs could represent a distinct class of functional small RNAs that can affect gene expression through direct incorporation into a target RNA transcript rather than through a traditional antisense-based mechanism.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: It has been widely assumed that all transcription in cells occur using NTPs only (i.e., de novo). However, it has been known for several decades that both prokaryotic and eukaryotic RNA polymerases can utilize small (2 to ∼5 nt) RNAs to prime transcription initiation in vitro, raising the possibility that small RNAs might also prime transcription initiation in vivo. A new study by Goldman et al. has now provided the first evidence that priming with so-called "nanoRNAs" (i.e., 2 to ∼5 nt RNAs) can, in fact, occur in vivo. Furthermore, this study provides evidence that altering the extent of nanoRNA-mediated priming of transcription initiation can profoundly influence global gene expression. In this perspective, we summarize the findings of Goldman et al. and discuss the prospect that nanoRNA-mediated priming of transcription initiation represents an underappreciated aspect of gene expression in vivo.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The pneumococcal type 1 pilus, which is present in 25 to 30% of clinical isolates, has been associated with increased adherence and inflammatory responses and is being evaluated as a potential vaccine candidate. Here we show that expression of the pilus is bistable as a result of the molecular interaction between the transcription activator RrlA and a structural component of the pilus called RrgA. Sampling various clinical pneumococcal isolates that harbor the type 1 pilus-encoding islet, we show that distinct populations of cells can be identified with either undetectable or prominent pilus expression. When these two populations are separated and regrown in liquid medium, they are phenotypically different: the nonexpressing population reverts to the previous bimodal distribution, whereas the expressing population retains the same high level of pilus expression. Controlled exogenous expression of the regulatory pilus gene rlrA in a strain from which the endogenous version has been deleted increases pilus expression steadily, suggesting that the bistable expression of the pilus observed in wild-type cells is dependent on the native rlrA promoter. Finally, we demonstrate that RrgA is a negative regulator of pilus expression and that this repression is likely mediated through direct interaction with RlrA. We conclude that type 1 pilus expression in pneumococcus exhibits a bistable phenotype, which is dependent upon the molecular interplay between the RlrA and RrgA proteins. We suggest that this flexibility in expression may assist adaptation to a range of immune conditions, such as evasion of antipilus antibodies, within potential hosts.
Infection and immunity 05/2011; 79(8):2974-83. DOI:10.1128/IAI.05117-11 · 4.16 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The tubulin-like FtsZ protein initiates assembly of the bacterial cytokinetic machinery by polymerizing into a ring structure, the Z ring, at the prospective site of division. To block Z-ring formation over the nucleoid and help coordinate cell division with chromosome segregation, Escherichia coli employs the nucleoid-associated division inhibitor, SlmA. Here, we investigate the mechanism by which SlmA regulates FtsZ assembly. We show that SlmA disassembles FtsZ polymers in vitro. In addition, using chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP), we identified 24 SlmA-binding sequences (SBSs) on the chromosome. Remarkably, SlmA binding to SBSs dramatically enhanced its ability to interfere with FtsZ polymerization, and ChIP studies indicate that SlmA regulates FtsZ assembly at these sites in vivo. Because of the dynamic and highly organized nature of the chromosome, coupling SlmA activation to specific DNA binding provides a mechanism for the precise spatiotemporal control of its anti-FtsZ activity within the cell.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 02/2011; 108(9):3773-8. DOI:10.1073/pnas.1018674108 · 9.81 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Comprehensive clone sets representing the entire genome now exist for a large number of organisms. The Gateway entry clone sets are a particularly useful means to study gene function, given the ease of introduction into any Gateway-suitable destination vector. We have adapted a bacterial two-hybrid system for use with Gateway entry clone sets, such that potential interactions between proteins encoded within these clone sets can be determined by new destination vectors. We show that utilizing the Gateway clone sets for Francisella tularensis and Vibrio cholerae, known interactions between F. tularensis IglA and IglB and V. cholerae VipA and VipB could be confirmed with these destination vectors. Moreover, the introduction of unique tags into each vector allowed for visualization of the expressed hybrid proteins via Western immunoblot. This Gateway-suitable bacterial two-hybrid system provides a new tool for rapid screening of protein-protein interactions.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: H-NS is an abundant DNA-binding protein that has been implicated in the silencing of foreign DNA in several different bacteria. The ability of H-NS dimers to form higher-order oligomers is thought to aid the polymerization of the protein across AT-rich stretches of DNA and facilitate gene silencing. Although the oligomerization of H-NS from enteric bacteria has been the subject of intense investigation, little is known regarding the oligomerization of H-NS family members from bacteria outside of the enterobacteriaceae, many of which share little sequence similarity with their enteric counterparts. Here we show that MvaT, a member of the H-NS family of proteins from Pseudomonas aeruginosa, can form both dimers and higher-order oligomers, and we identify a region within MvaT that mediates higher-order oligomer formation. Using genetic assays we identify mutants of MvaT that are defective for higher-order oligomer formation. We present evidence that these mutants are functionally impaired and exhibit DNA-binding defects because of their inability to form higher-order oligomers. Our findings support a model in which the ability of MvaT to bind efficiently to the DNA depends upon protein-protein interactions between MvaT dimers and suggest that the ability to form higher-order oligomers is a conserved and essential feature of H-NS family members.