Initial transcription by RNA polymerase proceeds through a DNA-scrunching mechanism..
Science (New York, N.Y.). 314(5802):1144-7. Abstract
Using fluorescence resonance energy transfer to monitor distances within single molecules of abortively initiating transcription initiation complexes, we show that initial transcription proceeds through a "scrunching" mechanism, in which RNA polymerase (RNAP) remains fixed on promoter DNA and pulls downstream DNA into itself and past its active center. We show further that putative alternative mechanisms for RNAP active-center translocation in initial transcription, involving "transient excursions" of RNAP relative to DNA or "inchworming" of RNAP relative to DNA, do not occur. The results support a model in which a stressed intermediate, with DNA-unwinding stress and DNA-compaction stress, is formed during initial transcription, and in which accumulated stress is used to drive breakage of interactions between RNAP and promoter DNA and between RNAP and initiation factors during promoter escape.
Retention of transcription initiation factor sigma70 in transcription elongation: single-molecule analysis..
Molecular cell. 20(3):347-56. Abstract
We report a single-molecule assay that defines, simultaneously, the translocational position of a protein complex relative to DNA and the subunit stoichiometry of the complex. We applied the assay to define translocational positions and sigma70 contents of bacterial transcription elongation complexes in vitro. The results confirm ensemble results indicating that a large fraction, approximately 70%-90%, of early elongation complexes retain sigma70 and that a determinant for sigma70 recognition in the initial transcribed region increases sigma70 retention in early elongation complexes. The results establish that a significant fraction, approximately 50%-60%, of mature elongation complexes retain sigma70 and that a determinant for sigma70 recognition in the initial transcribed region does not appreciably affect sigma70 retention in mature elongation complexes. The results further establish that, in mature elongation complexes that retain sigma70, the half-life of sigma70 retention is long relative to the time-scale of elongation, suggesting that some complexes may retain sigma70 throughout elongation.
Mean DNA bend angle and distribution of DNA bend angles in the CAP-DNA complex in solution..
Journal of molecular biology. 312(3):453-68. Abstract
In order to define the mean DNA bend angle and distribution of DNA bend angles in the catabolite activator protein (CAP)-DNA complex in solution under standard transcription initiation conditions, we have performed nanosecond time-resolved fluorescence measurements quantifying energy transfer between a probe incorporated at a specific site in CAP, and a complementary probe incorporated at each of five specific sites in DNA. The results indicate that the mean DNA bend angle is 77(+/-3) degrees - consistent with the mean DNA bend angle observed in crystallographic structures (80(+/-12) degrees ). Lifetime-distribution analysis indicates that the distribution of DNA bend angles is relatively narrow, with <10 % of DNA bend angles exceeding 100 degrees. Millisecond time-resolved luminescence measurements using lanthanide-chelate probes provide independent evidence that the upper limit of the distribution of DNA bend angles is approximately 100 degrees. The methods used here will permit mutational analysis of CAP-induced DNA bending and the role of CAP-induced DNA bending in transcriptional activation.
Structural and Thermodynamic Characterization of the DNa Binding Properties of a Triple Alanine Mutant of MATalpha2.
Structure. 10:961-971. Abstract
Triply mutated MATalpha2 protein, alpha2-3A, in which all three major groove-contacting residues are mutated to alanine, is defective in binding DNA alone or in complex with Mcm1 yet binds with MATa1 with near wild-type affinity and specificity. To gain insight into this unexpected behavior, we determined the crystal structure of the a1/alpha2-3A/DNA complex. The structure shows that the triple mutation causes a collapse of the alpha2-3A/DNA interface that results in a reorganized set of alpha2-3A/DNA contacts, thereby enabling the mutant protein to recognize the wild-type DNA sequence. Isothermal titration calorimetry measurements reveal that a much more favorable entropic component stabilizes the a1/alpha2-3A/DNA complex than the alpha2-3A/DNA complex. The combined structural and thermodynamic studies provide an explanation of how partner proteins influence the sequence specificity of a DNA binding protein.
Cell recognition, signal induction, and symmetrical gene activation at the dorsal-ventral boundary of the developing Drosophila wing.
Cell. 82:795-802. Abstract
Appendage formation in insects and vertebrates depends upon signals from both the anterior-posterior and dorsal-ventral (DV) axes. In Drosophila, wing formation is organized symmetrically around the DV boundary of the growing wing imaginal disc and requires interactions between dorsal and ventral cells. Compartmentalization of the wing disc, dorsal cell behavior, and the expression of two dorsally expressed putative signaling molecules, fringe (fng) and Serrate (Ser), are regulated by the apterous selector gene. Here, we demonstrate that fng and Ser have distinct roles in a novel cell recognition and signal induction process. fng serves as a boundary-determining molecule such that Ser is induced wherever cells expressing fng and cells not expressing fng are juxtaposed. Ser in turn triggers the expression of genes involved in wing growth and patterning on both sides of the DV boundary.
Trajectory of DNA in the RNA polymerase II transcription preinitiation complex..
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 94(23):12268-73. Abstract
By using site-specific protein-DNA photocrosslinking, we define the positions of TATA-binding protein, transcription factor IIB, transcription factor IIF, and subunits of RNA polymerase II (RNAPII) relative to promoter DNA within the human transcription preinitiation complex. The results indicate that the interface between the largest and second-largest subunits of RNAPII forms an extended, approximately 240 A channel that interacts with promoter DNA both upstream and downstream of the transcription start. By using electron microscopy, we show that RNAPII compacts promoter DNA by the equivalent of approximately 50 bp. Together with the published structure of RNAPII, the results indicate that RNAPII wraps DNA around its surface and suggest a specific model for the trajectory of the wrapped DNA.
Localization and Signaling of G(beta) Subunit Ste4p are Controlled by A-factor Receptor and the A-specific Protein Asg7p.
Mol Cell Biol. 20:8826-8835. Abstract
Haploid yeast cells initiate pheromone signaling upon the binding of pheromone to its receptor and activation of the coupled G protein. A regulatory process termed receptor inhibition blocks pheromone signaling when the a-factor receptor is inappropriately expressed in MATa cells. Receptor inhibition blocks signaling by inhibiting the activity of the G protein beta subunit, Ste4p. To investigate how Ste4p activity is inhibited, its subcellular location was examined. In wild-type cells, alpha-factor treatment resulted in localization of Ste4p to the plasma membrane of mating projections. In cells expressing the a-factor receptor, alpha-factor treatment resulted in localization of Ste4p away from the plasma membrane to an internal compartment. An altered version of Ste4p that is largely insensitive to receptor inhibition retained its association with the membrane in cells expressing the a-factor receptor. The inhibitory function of the a-factor receptor required ASG7, an a-specific gene of previously unknown function. ASG7 RNA was induced by pheromone, consistent with increased inhibition as the pheromone response progresses. The a-factor receptor inhibited signaling in its liganded state, demonstrating that the receptor can block the signal that it initiates. ASG7 was required for the altered localization of Ste4p that occurs during receptor inhibition, and the subcellular location of Asg7p was consistent with its having a direct effect on Ste4p localization. These results demonstrate that Asg7p mediates a regulatory process that blocks signaling from a G protein beta subunit and causes its relocalization within the cell.
Nonradioactive, ultrasensitive site-specific protein-protein photocrosslinking: interactions of alpha-helix 2 of TATA-binding protein with general transcription factor TFIIA and transcriptional repressor NC2..
Nucleic acids research. 36(19):6143-54. Abstract
We have developed an approach that enables nonradioactive, ultrasensitive (attamole sensitivity) site-specific protein-protein photocrosslinking, and we have applied the approach to the analysis of interactions of alpha-helix 2 (H2) of human TATA-element binding protein (TBP) with general transcription factor TFIIA and transcriptional repressor NC2. We have found that TBP H2 can be crosslinked to TFIIA in the TFIIA-TBP-DNA complex and in higher order transcription-initiation complexes, and we have mapped the crosslink to the 'connector' region of the TFIIA alpha/beta subunit (TFIIAalpha/beta). We further have found that TBP H2 can be crosslinked to NC2 in the NC2-TBP-DNA complex, and we have mapped the crosslink to the C-terminal 'tail' of the NC2 alpha-subunit (NC2alpha). Interactions of TBP H2 with the TFIIAalpha/beta connector and the NC2alpha C-terminal tail were not observed in crystal structures of TFIIA-TBP-DNA and NC2-TBP-DNA complexes, since relevant segments of TFIIA and NC2 were not present in truncated TFIIA and NC2 derivatives used for crystallization. We propose that interactions of TBP H2 with the TFIIAalpha/beta connector and the NC2alpha C-terminal tail provide an explanation for genetic results suggesting importance of TBP H2 in TBP-TFIIA interactions and TBP-NC2 interactions, and provide an explanation-steric exclusion-for competition between TFIIA and NC2.
Mechanism of ATP-dependent promoter melting by transcription factor IIH..
Science (New York, N.Y.). 288(5470):1418-22. Abstract
We show that transcription factor IIH ERCC3 subunit, the DNA helicase responsible for adenosine triphosphate (ATP)-dependent promoter melting during transcription initiation, does not interact with the promoter region that undergoes melting but instead interacts with DNA downstream of this region. We show further that promoter melting does not change protein-DNA interactions upstream of the region that undergoes melting but does change interactions within and downstream of this region. Our results rule out the proposal that IIH functions in promoter melting through a conventional DNA-helicase mechanism. We propose that IIH functions as a molecular wrench: rotating downstream DNA relative to fixed upstream protein-DNA interactions, thereby generating torque on, and melting, the intervening DNA.
Isolation and sequence of a gene encoding a methionine-rich 10-kDa zein protein from maize.
Gene. 71:359-70. Abstract
We have isolated the gene encoding a methionine-rich 10-kDa zein protein from a lambda EMBL3 maize genomic 'mini' library of the inbred line BSSS-53 and determined its nucleotide sequence. The sequence matches perfectly with a cDNA clone from the inbred line W22 (which has the same restriction fragment length polymorphism as many inbred lines tested) indicating that we have isolated a functional storage protein gene that is very conserved in maize. This comparison also excludes any splicing of any precursor mRNA and therefore any presence of introns. A number of potential regulatory sequences have been located in the flanking regions. The 10-kDa-zein gene represents the last size class in the zein multigene family to be characterized. Its structure allows us now to re-examine the relationship of all the zein proteins and also to compare the structure of a new class of storage proteins that are rich in methionine, an essential amino acid in livestock fodder.
Differential expression of a gene for a methionine-rich storage protein in maize.
Molecular & general genetics : MGG. 211:477-84. Abstract
A methionine-rich 10 kDa zein storage protein from maize was isolated and the sequence of the N-terminal 30 amino acids was determined. Based on the amino acid sequence, two mixed oligonucleotides were synthesized and used to probe a maize endosperm cDNA library. A full-length cDNA clone encoding the 10 kDa zein was isolated by this procedure. The nucleotide sequence of the cDNA clone predicts a polypeptide of 129 amino acids, preceded by a signal peptide of 21 amino acids. The predicted polypeptide is unique in its extremely high content of methionine (22.5%). The maize inbred line BSSS-53, which has increased seed methionine due to overproduction of this protein, was compared to W23, a standard inbred line. Northern blot analysis showed that the relative RNA levels for the 10 kDa zein were enhanced in developing seeds of BSSS-53, providing a molecular basis for the overproduction of the protein. Southern blot analysis indicated that there are one or two 10 kDa zein genes in the maize genome.
BMP signaling is required for controlling somatic stem cell self-renewal in the Drosophila ovary.
Developmental cell. 9:651-62. Abstract
BMP signaling is essential for promoting self-renewal of mouse embryonic stem cells and Drosophila germline stem cells and for repressing stem cell proliferation in the mouse intestine and skin. However, it remains unknown whether BMP signaling can promote self-renewal of adult somatic stem cells. In this study, we show that BMP signaling is necessary and sufficient for promoting self-renewal and proliferation of somatic stem cells (SSCs) in the Drosophila ovary. BMP signaling is required in SSCs to directly control their maintenance and division, but is dispensable for proliferation of their differentiated progeny. Furthermore, BMP signaling is required to control SSC self-renewal, but not survival. Moreover, constitutive BMP signaling prolongs the SSC lifespan. Therefore, our study clearly demonstrates that BMP signaling directly promotes SSC self-renewal and proliferation in the Drosophila ovary. Our work further suggests that BMP signaling could promote self-renewal of adult stem cells in other systems.
Plastid marker gene excision by the phiC31 phage site-specific recombinase.
Plant Mol. Biol.. 64:137-43. Abstract
Marker genes are essential for selective amplification of rare transformed plastid genome copies to obtain genetically stable transplastomic plants. However, the marker gene becomes dispensable when homoplastomic plants are obtained. Here we report excision of plastid marker genes by the phiC31 phage site-specific integrase (Int) that mediates recombination between bacterial (attB) and phage (attP) attachment sites. We tested marker gene excision in a two-step process. First we transformed the tobacco plastid genome with the pCK2 vector in which the spectinomycin resistance (aadA) marker gene is flanked with suitably oriented attB and attP sites. The transformed plastid genomes were stable in the absence of Int. We then transformed the nucleus with a gene encoding a plastid-targeted Int that led to efficient marker gene excision. The aadA marker free Nt-pCK2-Int plants were resistant to phosphinothricin herbicides since the pCK2 plastid vector also carried a bar herbicide resistance gene that, due to the choice of its promoter, causes a yellowish-golden (aurea) phenotype. Int-mediated marker excision reported here is an alternative to the currently used CRE/loxP plastid marker excision system and expands the repertoire of the tools available for the manipulation of the plastid genome.
Distance-restrained docking of rifampicin and rifamycin SV to RNA polymerase using systematic FRET measurements: developing benchmarks of model quality and reliability..
Biophysical journal. 88(2):925-38. Abstract
We are developing distance-restrained docking strategies for modeling macromolecular complexes that combine available high-resolution structures of the components and intercomponent distance restraints derived from systematic fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) measurements. In this article, we consider the problem of docking small-molecule ligands within macromolecular complexes. Using simulated FRET data, we have generated a series of benchmarks that permit estimation of model accuracy based on the quantity and quality of FRET-derived distance restraints, including the number, random error, systematic error, distance distribution, and radial distribution of FRET-derived distance restraints. We find that expected model accuracy is 10 A or better for models based on: i), > or =20 restraints with up to 15% random error and no systematic error, or ii), > or =20 restraints with up to 15% random error, up to 10% systematic error, and a symmetric radial distribution of restraints. Model accuracies can be improved to 5 A or better by increasing the number of restraints to > or =40 and/or by optimizing the distance distribution of restraints. Using experimental FRET data, we have defined the positions of the binding sites within bacterial RNA polymerase of the small-molecule inhibitors rifampicin (Rif) and rifamycin SV (Rif SV). The inferred binding sites for Rif and Rif SV were located with accuracies of, respectively, 7 and 10 A relative to the crystallographically defined binding site for Rif. These accuracies agree with expectations from the benchmark simulations and suffice to indicate that the binding sites for Rif and Rif SV are located within the RNA polymerase active-center cleft, overlapping the binding site for the RNA-DNA hybrid.
Distinct Protein Domains Regulate Ciliary Targeting and Function of C. Elegans PKD-2.
Exp Cell Res. 314:825-833. Abstract
TRPP2 (transient receptor potential polycystin-2) channels function in a range of cells where they are localized to specific subcellular regions including the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and primary cilium. In humans, TRPP2/PC-2 mutations severely compromise kidney function and cause autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD). The Caenorhabditis elegans TRPP2 homolog, PKD-2, is restricted to the somatodendritic (cell body and dendrite) and ciliary compartments of male specific sensory neurons. Within these neurons PKD-2 function is required for sensation. To understand the mechanisms regulating TRPP2 subcellular distribution and activity, we performed in vivo structure-function-localization studies using C. elegans as a model system. Our data demonstrate that somatodendritic and ciliary targeting requires the transmembrane (TM) region of PKD-2 and that the PKD-2 cytosolic termini regulate subcellular distribution and function. Within neuronal cell bodies, PKD-2 colocalizes with the OSM-9 TRP vanilloid (TRPV) channel, suggesting that these TRPP and TRPV channels may function in a common process. When human TRPP2/PC-2 is heterologously expressed in transgenic C. elegans animals, PC-2 does not visibly localize to cilia but does partially rescue pkd-2 null mutant defects, suggesting that human PC-2 and PKD-2 are functional homologs.
Functional characterization of Drosophila sialyltransferase.
The Journal of biological chemistry. 279:4346-57. Abstract
Sialylation is an important carbohydrate modification of glycoconjugates in the deuterostome lineage of animals. By contrast, the evidence for sialylation in protostomes has been scarce and somewhat controversial. In the present study, we characterize a Drosophila sialyltransferase gene, thus providing experimental evidence for the presence of sialylation in protostomes. This gene encodes a functional alpha2-6-sialyltransferase (SiaT) that is closely related to the vertebrate ST6Gal sialyltransferase family, indicating an ancient evolutionary origin for this family. Characterization of recombinant, purified Drosophila SiaT revealed a novel acceptor specificity as it exhibits highest activity toward GalNAcbeta1-4GlcNAc carbohydrate structures at the non-reducing termini of oligosaccharides and glycoprotein glycans. Oligosaccharides are preferred over glycoproteins as acceptors, and no activity toward glycolipid acceptors was detected. Recombinant Drosophila SiaT expressed in cultured insect cells possesses in vivo and in vitro autosialylation activity toward beta-linked GalNAc termini of its own N-linked glycans, thus representing the first example of a sialylated insect glycoconjugate. In situ hybridization revealed that Drosophila SiaT is expressed during embryonic development in a tissue- and stage-specific fashion, with elevated expression in a subset of cells within the central nervous system. The identification of a SiaT in Drosophila provides a new evolutionary perspective for considering the diverse functions of sialylation and, through the powerful genetic tools available in this system, a means of elucidating functions for sialylation in protostomes.
Cooperative regulation of AJM-1 controls junctional integrity in Caenorhabditis elegans epithelia.
Nat Cell Biol. 3:983-91. Abstract
The function of epithelial cell sheets depends on the integrity of specialized cell-cell junctions that connect neighbouring cells. We have characterized the novel coiled-coil protein AJM-1, which localizes to an apical junctional domain of Caenorhabditis elegans epithelia basal to the HMR-HMP (cadherin-catenin) complex. In the absence of AJM-1, the integrity of this domain is compromised. Proper AJM-1 localization requires LET-413 and DLG-1, homologues of the Drosophila tumour suppressors Scribble and Discs large, respectively. DLG-1 physically interacts with AJM-1 and is required for its normal apical distribution, and LET-413 mediates the rapid accumulation of both DLG-1 and AJM-1 in the apical domain. In the absence of both dlg-1 and let-413 function AJM-1 is almost completely lost from apical junctions in embryos, whereas HMP-1 (alpha-catenin) localization is only mildly affected. We conclude that LET-413 and DLG-1 cooperatively control AJM-1 localization and that AJM-1 controls the integrity of a distinct apical junctional domain in C. elegans.
UEV-1 is an ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme variant that regulates glutamate receptor trafficking in C. elegans neurons.
PLoS One. 5:e14291. Abstract
The regulation of AMPA-type glutamate receptor (AMPAR) membrane trafficking is a key mechanism by which neurons regulate synaptic strength and plasticity. AMPAR trafficking is modulated through a combination of receptor phosphorylation, ubiquitination, endocytosis, and recycling, yet the factors that mediate these processes are just beginning to be uncovered. Here we identify the ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme variant UEV-1 as a regulator of AMPAR trafficking in vivo. We identified mutations in uev-1 in a genetic screen for mutants with altered trafficking of the AMPAR subunit GLR-1 in C. elegans interneurons. Loss of uev-1 activity results in the accumulation of GLR-1 in elongated accretions in neuron cell bodies and along the ventral cord neurites. Mutants also have a corresponding behavioral defect--a decrease in spontaneous reversals in locomotion--consistent with diminished GLR-1 function. The localization of other synaptic proteins in uev-1-mutant interneurons appears normal, indicating that the GLR-1 trafficking defects are not due to gross deficiencies in synapse formation or overall protein trafficking. We provide evidence that GLR-1 accumulates at RAB-10-containing endosomes in uev-1 mutants, and that receptors arrive at these endosomes independent of clathrin-mediated endocytosis. UEV-1 homologs in other species bind to the ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme Ubc13 to create K63-linked polyubiquitin chains on substrate proteins. We find that whereas UEV-1 can interact with C. elegans UBC-13, global levels of K63-linked ubiquitination throughout nematodes appear to be unaffected in uev-1 mutants, even though UEV-1 is broadly expressed in most tissues. Nevertheless, ubc-13 mutants are similar in phenotype to uev-1 mutants, suggesting that the two proteins do work together to regulate GLR-1 trafficking. Our results suggest that UEV-1 could regulate a small subset of K63-linked ubiquitination events in nematodes, at least one of which is critical in regulating GLR-1 trafficking.
PloS one. 5:e15461. Abstract
Prospects of obtaining plants glowing in the dark have captivated the imagination of scientists and layman alike. While light emission has been developed into a useful marker of gene expression, bioluminescence in plants remained dependent on externally supplied substrate. Evolutionary conservation of the prokaryotic gene expression machinery enabled expression of the six genes of the lux operon in chloroplasts yielding plants that are capable of autonomous light emission. This work demonstrates that complex metabolic pathways of prokaryotes can be reconstructed and function in plant chloroplasts and that transplastomic plants can emit light that is visible by naked eye.
Specificity of TGFβ signaling is conferred by distinct type I receptors and their associated SMAD proteins in Caenorhabditis elegans.
Development (Cambridge, England). 126:251-260. Abstract
In C. elegans, the TGFbeta-like type II receptor daf-4 is required for two distinct signaling pathways. In association with the type I receptor daf-1, it functions in the dauer pathway. In addition, it is also required for body size determination and male tail patterning, roles which do not require daf-1. In an effort to determine how two different signals are transmitted through daf-4, we looked for other potential signaling partners for DAF-4. We have cloned and characterized a novel type I receptor and show that it is encoded by sma-6. Mutations in sma-6 generate the reduced body size (Sma) and abnormal mail tail (Mab) phenotypes identical to those observed in daf-4 and sma-2, sma-3, sma-4 mutants (C. elegans Smads), indicating that they function in a common signaling pathway. However, mutations in sma-6, sma-2, sma-3, or sma-4 do not produce constitutive dauers, which demonstrates that the unique biological functions of daf-4 are mediated by distinct type I receptors functioning in parallel pathways. We propose that the C. elegans model for TGFbeta-like signaling, in which distinct type I receptors determine specificity, may be a general mechanism of achieving specificity in other organisms. These findings distinguish between the manner in which signaling specificity is achieved in TGFbeta-like pathways and receptor tyrosine-kinase (RTK) pathways.
Photosynthesis: a blueprint for solar energy capture and biohydrogen production technologies.
Photochemical & Photobiological Sciences. 4:957-970. Abstract
Solar energy capture, conversion into chemical energy and biopolymers by photoautotrophic organisms, is the basis for almost all life on Earth. A broad range of organisms have developed complex molecular machinery for the efficient conversion of sunlight to chemical energy over the past 3 billion years, which to the present day has not been matched by any man-made technologies. Chlorophyll photochemistry within photosystem II (PSII) drives the water-splitting reaction efficiently at room temperature, in contrast with the thermal dissociation reaction that requires a temperature of ca. 1550 K. The successful elucidation of the high-resolution structure of PSII, and in particular the structure of its Mn4Ca cluster (K. N. Ferreira, T. M. Iverson, K. Maghlaoui, J. Barber and S. Iwata, Science, 2004, 303, 1831-1838, ref. 1) provides an invaluable blueprint for designing solar powered biotechnologies for the future. This knowledge, combined with new molecular genetic tools, fully sequenced genomes, and an ever increasing knowledge base of physiological processes of oxygenic phototrophs has inspired scientists from many countries to develop new biotechnological strategies to produce renewable CO2-neutral energy from sunlight. This review focuses particularly on the potential of use of cyanobacteria and microalgae for biohydrogen production. Specifically this article reviews the predicted size of the global energy market and the constraints of global warming upon it, before detailing the complex set of biochemical pathways that underlie the photosynthetic process and how they could be modified for improved biohydrogen production.