[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Activation and/or recruitment of the host plasmin, a fibrinolytic enzyme also active on extracellular matrix components, is a common invasive strategy of bacterial pathogens. Yersinia pestis, the bubonic plague agent, expresses the multifunctional surface protease Pla, which activates plasmin and inactivates fibrinolysis inhibitors. Pla is encoded by the pPla plasmid. Following intradermal inoculation, Y. pestis has the capacity to multiply in and cause destruction of the lymph node (LN) draining the entry site. The closely related, pPla-negative, Y. pseudotuberculosis species lacks this capacity. We hypothesized that tissue damage and bacterial multiplication occurring in the LN during bubonic plague were linked and both driven by pPla. Using a set of pPla-positive and pPla-negative Y. pestis and Y. pseudotuberculosis strains in a mouse model of intradermal injection, we found that pPla is not required for bacterial translocation to the LN. We also observed that a pPla-cured Y. pestis caused the same extensive histological lesions as the wild type strain. Furthermore, the Y. pseudotuberculosis histological pattern, characterized by infectious foci limited by inflammatory cell infiltrates with normal tissue density and follicular organization, was unchanged after introduction of pPla. However, the presence of pPla enabled Y. pseudotuberculosis to increase its bacterial load up to that of Y. pestis. Similarly, lack of pPla strongly reduced Y. pestis titers in LNs of infected mice. This pPla-mediated enhancing effect on bacterial load was directly dependent on the proteolytic activity of Pla. Immunohistochemistry of Pla-negative Y. pestis-infected LNs revealed extensive bacterial lysis, unlike the numerous, apparently intact, microorganisms seen in wild type Y. pestis-infected preparations. Therefore, our study demonstrates that tissue destruction and bacterial survival/multiplication are dissociated in the bubo and that the primary action of Pla is to protect bacteria from destruction rather than to alter the tissue environment to favor Y. pestis propagation in the host.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The glycine receptor (GlyR) is a pentameric ligand-gated ion channel (pLGIC) mediating inhibitory transmission in the nervous system. Its transmembrane domain (TMD) is the target of allosteric modulators such as general anesthetics and ethanol and is a major locus for hyperekplexic congenital mutations altering the allosteric transitions of activation or desensitization. We previously showed that the TMD of the human α1GlyR could be fused to the extracellular domain of GLIC, a bacterial pLGIC, to form a functional chimera called Lily. Here, we overexpress Lily in Schneider 2 insect cells and solve its structure by X-ray crystallography at 3.5 Å resolution. The TMD of the α1GlyR adopts a closed-channel conformation involving a single ring of hydrophobic residues at the center of the pore. Electrophysiological recordings show that the phenotypes of key allosteric mutations of the α1GlyR, scattered all along the pore, are qualitatively preserved in this chimera, including those that confer decreased sensitivity to agonists, constitutive activity, decreased activation kinetics, or increased desensitization kinetics. Combined structural and functional data indicate a pore-opening mechanism for the α1GlyR, suggesting a structural explanation for the effect of some key hyperekplexic allosteric mutations. The first X-ray structure of the TMD of the α1GlyR solved here using GLIC as a scaffold paves the way for mechanistic investigation and design of allosteric modulators of a human receptor.
Full-text · Article · Feb 2015 · Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Pentameric ligand-gated ion channels mediate fast chemical transmission of nerve signals. The structure of a bacterial proton-gated homolog has been established in its open and locally closed conformations at acidic pH. Here we report its crystal structure at neutral pH, thereby providing the X-ray structures of the two end-points of the gating mechanism in the same pentameric ligand-gated ion channel. The large structural variability in the neutral pH structure observed in the four copies of the pentamer present in the asymmetric unit has been used to analyze the intrinsic fluctuations in this state, which are found to prefigure the transition to the open state. In the extracellular domain (ECD), a marked quaternary change is observed, involving both a twist and a blooming motion, and the pore in the transmembrane domain (TMD) is closed by an upper bend of helix M2 (as in locally closed form) and a kink of helix M1, both helices no longer interacting across adjacent subunits. On the tertiary level, detachment of inner and outer β sheets in the ECD reshapes two essential cavities at the ECD-ECD and ECD-TMD interfaces. The first one is the ligand-binding cavity; the other is close to a known divalent cation binding site in other pentameric ligand-gated ion channels. In addition, a different crystal form reveals that the locally closed and open conformations coexist as discrete ones at acidic pH. These structural results, together with site-directed mutagenesis, physiological recordings, and coarse-grained modeling, have been integrated to propose a model of the gating transition pathway.
Full-text · Article · Dec 2013 · Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Pentameric ligand-gated ion channels mediate signal transduction through conformational transitions between closed-pore and open-pore states. To stabilize a closed conformation of GLIC, a bacterial proton-gated homolog from Gloeobacter violaceus whose open structure is known, we separately generated either four cross-links or two single mutations. We found all six mutants to be in the same 'locally closed' conformation using X-ray crystallography, sharing most of the features of the open form but showing a locally closed pore as a result of a concerted bending of all of its M2 helices. The mutants adopt several variant conformations of the M2-M3 loop, and in all cases an interacting lipid that is observed in the open form disappears. A single cross-linked mutant is functional, according to electrophysiology, and the locally closed structure of this mutant indicates that it has an increased flexibility. Further cross-linking, accessibility and molecular dynamics data suggest that the locally closed form is a functionally relevant conformation that occurs during allosteric gating transitions.
No preview · Article · May 2012 · Nature Structural & Molecular Biology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The High Pathogenicity Island of Yersinia pseudotuberculosis IP32637 was previously shown to be horizontally transferable as part of a large chromosomal segment. We demonstrate here that at low temperature other chromosomal loci, as well as a non-mobilizable plasmid (pUC4K), are also transferable. This transfer, designated GDT4 (Generalized DNA Transfer at 4°C), required the presence of an IP32637 endogenous plasmid (pGDT4) that carries several mobile genetic elements and a conjugation machinery. We established that cure of this plasmid or inactivation of its sex pilus fully abrogates this process. Analysis of the mobilized pUC4K recovered from transconjugants revealed the insertion of one of the pGDT4-borne ISs, designated ISYps1, at different sites on the transferred plasmid molecules. This IS belongs to the IS6 family, which moves by replicative transposition, and thus could drive the formation of cointegrates between pGDT4 and the host chromosome and could mediate the transfer of chromosomal regions in an Hfr-like manner. In support of this model, we show that a suicide plasmid carrying ISYps1 is able to integrate itself, flanked by ISYps1 copies, at multiple locations into the Escherichia coli chromosome. Furthermore, we demonstrate the formation of RecA-independent cointegrates between the ISYps1-harboring plasmid and an ISYps1-free replicon, leading to the passive transfer of the non-conjugative plasmid. We thus demonstrate here a natural mechanism of horizontal gene exchange, which is less constrained and more powerful than the classical Hfr mechanism, as it only requires the presence of an IS6-type element on a conjugative replicon to drive the horizontal transfer of any large block of plasmid or chromosomal DNA. This natural mechanism of chromosome transfer, which occurs under conditions mimicking those found in the environment, may thus play a significant role in bacterial evolution, pathogenesis, and adaptation to new ecological niches.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Pentameric ligand-gated ion channels (pLGICs), which mediate chemo-electric signal transduction in animals, have been recently found in bacteria. Despite clear sequence and 3D structure homology, the phylogenetic distance between prokaryotic and eukaryotic homologs suggests significant structural divergences, especially at the interface between the extracellular (ECD) and the transmembrane (TMD) domains. To challenge this possibility, we constructed a chimera in which the ECD of the bacterial protein GLIC is fused to the TMD of the human α1 glycine receptor (α1GlyR). Electrophysiology in Xenopus oocytes shows that it functions as a proton-gated ion channel, thereby locating the proton activation site(s) of GLIC in its ECD. Patch-clamp experiments in BHK cells show that the ion channel displays an anionic selectivity with a unitary conductance identical to that of the α1GlyR. In addition, pharmacological investigations result in transmembrane allosteric modulation similar to the one observed on α1GlyR. Indeed, the clinically active drugs propofol, four volatile general anesthetics, alcohols, and ivermectin all potentiate the chimera while they inhibit GLIC. Collectively, this work shows the compatibility between GLIC and α1GlyR domains and points to conservation of the ion channel and transmembrane allosteric regulatory sites in the chimera. This provides evidence that GLIC and α1GlyR share a highly homologous 3D structure. GLIC is thus a relevant model of eukaryotic pLGICs, at least from the anionic type. In addition, the chimera is a good candidate for mass production in Escherichia coli, opening the way for investigations of "druggable" eukaryotic allosteric sites by X-ray crystallography.
Full-text · Article · Jul 2011 · Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Yersinia pestis, the causative agent of plague, has recently diverged from the less virulent enteropathogen Yersinia pseudotuberculosis. Its emergence has been characterized by massive genetic loss and inactivation and limited gene acquisition. The acquired genes include two plasmids, a filamentous phage, and a few chromosomal loci. The aim of this study was to characterize the chromosomal regions acquired by Y. pestis. Following in silico comparative analysis and PCR screening of 98 strains of Y. pseudotuberculosis and Y. pestis, we found that eight chromosomal loci (six regions [R1pe to R6pe] and two coding sequences [CDS1pe and CDS2pe]) specified Y. pestis. Signatures of integration by site specific or homologous recombination were identified for most of them. These acquisitions and the loss of ancestral DNA sequences were concentrated in a chromosomal region opposite to the origin of replication. The specific regions were acquired very early during Y. pestis evolution and were retained during its microevolution, suggesting that they might bring some selective advantages. Only one region (R3pe), predicted to carry a lambdoid prophage, is most likely no longer functional because of mutations. With the exception of R1pe and R2pe, which have the potential to encode a restriction/modification and a sugar transport system, respectively, no functions could be predicted for the other Y. pestis-specific loci. To determine the role of the eight chromosomal loci in the physiology and pathogenicity of the plague bacillus, each of them was individually deleted from the bacterial chromosome. None of the deletants exhibited defects during growth in vitro. Using the Xenopsylla cheopis flea model, all deletants retained the capacity to produce a stable and persistent infection and to block fleas. Similarly, none of the deletants caused any acute flea toxicity. In the mouse model of infection, all deletants were fully virulent upon subcutaneous or aerosol infections. Therefore, our results suggest that acquisition of new chromosomal materials has not been of major importance in the dramatic change of life cycle that has accompanied the emergence of Y. pestis.
Full-text · Article · Sep 2010 · Infection and immunity