Nucleic Acids Research
A winged helix domain in human MUS81 binds DNA and modulates the endonuclease activity of MUS81 complexes
The MUS81-EME1 endonuclease maintains metazoan genomic integrity by cleaving branched DNA structures that arise during the resolution of recombination intermediates. In humans, MUS81 also forms a poorly characterized complex with EME2. Here, we identify and determine the structure of a winged helix (WH) domain from human MUS81, which binds DNA. WH domain mutations greatly reduce binding of the isolated domain to DNA and impact on incision activity of MUS81-EME1/EME2 complexes. Deletion of the WH domain reduces the endonuclease activity of both MUS81-EME1 and MUS81-EME2 complexes, and incisions made by MUS81-EME2 are made closer to the junction on substrates containing a downstream duplex, such as fork structures and nicked Holliday junctions. WH domain mutation or deletion in Schizosaccharomyces pombe phenocopies the DNA-damage sensitivity of strains deleted for mus81. Our results indicate an important role for the WH domain in both yeast and human MUS81 complexes.
miR-146a-5p circuitry uncouples cell proliferation and migration, but not differentiation, in human mesenchymal stem cells
Administration of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) has the potential to ameliorate degenerative disorders and to repair damaged tissues. The homing of transplanted MSCs to injured sites is a critical property of engraftment. Our aim was to identify microRNAs involved in controlling MSC proliferation and migration. MSCs can be isolated from bone marrow and umbilical cord Wharton’s jelly (BM-MSCs and WJ-MSCs, respectively), and WJ-MSCs show poorer motility yet have a better amplification rate compared with BM-MSCs. Small RNA sequencing revealed that miR-146a-5p is significantly overexpressed and has high abundance in WJ-MSCs. Knockdown of miR-146a-5p in WJ-MSCs inhibited their proliferation yet enhanced their migration, whereas overexpression of miR-146a-5p in BM-MSCs did not influence their osteogenic and adipogenic potentials. Chemokine (C-X-C motif) ligand 12 (CXCL12), together with SIKE1, which is an I-kappa-B kinase epsilon (IKK) suppressor, is a direct target of miR-146a-5p in MSCs. Knockdown of miR-146a-5p resulted in the down-regulation of nuclear factor kappa-B (NF-B) activity, which is highly activated in WJ-MSCs and is known to activate miR-146a-5p promoter. miR-146a-5p is also downstream of CXCL12, and a negative feedback loop is therefore formed in MSCs. These findings suggest that miR-146a-5p is critical to the uncoupling of motility and proliferation of MSCs. Our miRNome data also provide a roadmap for further understanding MSC biology.
Elucidating the evolutionary conserved DNA-binding specificities of WRKY transcription factors by molecular dynamics and in vitro binding assays
WRKY transcription factors constitute a large protein family in plants that is involved in the regulation of developmental processes and responses to biotic or abiotic stimuli. The question arises how stimulus-specific responses are mediated given that the highly conserved WRKY DNA-binding domain (DBD) exclusively recognizes the ‘TTGACY’ W-box consensus. We speculated that the W-box consensus might be more degenerate and yet undetected differences in the W-box consensus of WRKYs of different evolutionary descent exist. The phylogenetic analysis of WRKY DBDs suggests that they evolved from an ancestral group IIc-like WRKY early in the eukaryote lineage. A direct descent of group IIc WRKYs supports a monophyletic origin of all other group II and III WRKYs from group I by loss of an N-terminal DBD. Group I WRKYs are of paraphyletic descent and evolved multiple times independently. By homology modeling, molecular dynamics simulations and in vitro DNA–protein interaction-enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay with AtWRKY50 (IIc), AtWRKY33 (I) and AtWRKY11 (IId) DBDs, we revealed differences in DNA-binding specificities. Our data imply that other components are essentially required besides the W-box-specific binding to DNA to facilitate a stimulus-specific WRKY function.
Transcription activator-like effector (TALE) proteins can be designed to bind virtually any DNA sequence. General guidelines for design of TALE DNA-binding domains suggest that the 5'-most base of the DNA sequence bound by the TALE (the N0 base) should be a thymine. We quantified the N0 requirement by analysis of the activities of TALE transcription factors (TALE-TF), TALE recombinases (TALE-R) and TALE nucleases (TALENs) with each DNA base at this position. In the absence of a 5' T, we observed decreases in TALE activity up to >1000-fold in TALE-TF activity, up to 100-fold in TALE-R activity and up to 10-fold reduction in TALEN activity compared with target sequences containing a 5' T. To develop TALE architectures that recognize all possible N0 bases, we used structure-guided library design coupled with TALE-R activity selections to evolve novel TALE N-terminal domains to accommodate any N0 base. A G-selective domain and broadly reactive domains were isolated and characterized. The engineered TALE domains selected in the TALE-R format demonstrated modularity and were active in TALE-TF and TALEN architectures. Evolved N-terminal domains provide effective and unconstrained TALE-based targeting of any DNA sequence as TALE binding proteins and designer enzymes.
Proteins that contain a functional Z-DNA-binding domain localize to cytoplasmic stress granules
Long double-stranded RNA may undergo hyper-editing by adenosine deaminases that act on RNA (ADARs), where up to 50% of adenosine residues may be converted to inosine. However, although numerous RNAs may undergo hyper-editing, the role for inosine-containing hyper-edited double-stranded RNA in cells is poorly understood. Nevertheless, editing plays a critical role in mammalian cells, as highlighted by the analysis of ADAR-null mutants. In particular, the long form of ADAR1 (ADAR1p150) is essential for viability. Moreover, a number of studies have implicated ADAR1p150 in various stress pathways. We have previously shown that ADAR1p150 localized to cytoplasmic stress granules in HeLa cells following either oxidative or interferon-induced stress. Here, we show that the Z-DNA-binding domain (ZαADAR1) exclusively found in ADAR1p150 is required for its localization to stress granules. Moreover, we show that fusion of ZαADAR1 to either green fluorescent protein (GFP) or polypyrimidine binding protein 4 (PTB4) also results in their localization to stress granules. We additionally show that the Zα domain from other Z-DNA-binding proteins (ZBP1, E3L) is likewise sufficient for localization to stress granules. Finally, we show that Z-RNA or Z-DNA binding is important for stress granule localization. We have thus identified a novel role for Z-DNA-binding domains in mammalian cells.
Selenoprotein expression in Escherichia coli redefines specific single UGA codons from translational termination to selenocysteine (Sec) insertion. This process requires the presence of a Sec Insertion Sequence (SECIS) in the mRNA, which forms a secondary structure that binds a unique Sec-specific elongation factor that catalyzes Sec insertion at the predefined UGA instead of release factor 2-mediated termination. During overproduction of recombinant selenoproteins, this process nonetheless typically results in expression of UGA-truncated products together with the production of recombinant selenoproteins. Here, we found that premature termination can be fully avoided through a SECIS-dependent Sec-mediated suppression of UGG, thereby yielding either tryptophan or Sec insertion without detectable premature truncation. The yield of recombinant selenoprotein produced with this method approached that obtained with a classical UGA codon for Sec insertion. Sec-mediated suppression of UGG thus provides a novel method for selenoprotein production, as here demonstrated with rat thioredoxin reductase. The results also reveal that the E. coli selenoprotein synthesis machinery has the inherent capability to promote wobble decoding.
Restriction enzyme KpnI is a HNH superfamily endonuclease requiring divalent metal ions for DNA cleavage but not for binding. The active site of KpnI can accommodate metal ions of different atomic radii for DNA cleavage. Although Mg2+ ion higher than 500 μM mediates promiscuous activity, Ca2+ suppresses the promiscuity and induces high cleavage fidelity. Here, we report that a conservative mutation of the metal-coordinating residue D148 to Glu results in the elimination of the Ca2+-mediated cleavage but imparting high cleavage fidelity with Mg2+. High cleavage fidelity of the mutant D148E is achieved through better discrimination of the target site at the binding and cleavage steps. Biochemical experiments and molecular dynamics simulations suggest that the mutation inhibits Ca2+-mediated cleavage activity by altering the geometry of the Ca2+-bound HNH active site. Although the D148E mutant reduces the specific activity of the enzyme, we identified a suppressor mutation that increases the turnover rate to restore the specific activity of the high fidelity mutant to the wild-type level. Our results show that active site plasticity in coordinating different metal ions is related to KpnI promiscuous activity, and tinkering the metal ion coordination is a plausible way to reduce promiscuous activity of metalloenzymes.
Aminoacylation and translational quality control strategy employed by leucyl-tRNA synthetase from a human pathogen with genetic code ambiguity
Aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases should ensure high accuracy in tRNA aminoacylation. However, the absence of significant structural differences between amino acids always poses a direct challenge for some aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases, such as leucyl-tRNA synthetase (LeuRS), which require editing function to remove mis-activated amino acids. In the cytoplasm of the human pathogen Candida albicans, the CUG codon is translated as both Ser and Leu by a uniquely evolved CatRNASer(CAG). Its cytoplasmic LeuRS (CaLeuRS) is a crucial component for CUG codon ambiguity and harbors only one CUG codon at position 919. Comparison of the activity of CaLeuRS-Ser919 and CaLeuRS-Leu919 revealed yeast LeuRSs have a relaxed tRNA recognition capacity. We also studied the mis-activation and editing of non-cognate amino acids by CaLeuRS. Interestingly, we found that CaLeuRS is naturally deficient in tRNA-dependent pre-transfer editing for non-cognate norvaline while displaying a weak tRNA-dependent pre-transfer editing capacity for non-cognate α-amino butyric acid. We also demonstrated that post-transfer editing of CaLeuRS is not tRNALeu species-specific. In addition, other eukaryotic but not archaeal or bacterial LeuRSs were found to recognize CatRNASer(CAG). Overall, we systematically studied the aminoacylation and editing properties of CaLeuRS and established a characteristic LeuRS model with naturally deficient tRNA-dependent pre-transfer editing, which increases LeuRS types with unique editing patterns.
The structure- and strand-specific phosphodiesterase flap endonuclease-1 (FEN1), the prototypical 5'-nuclease, catalyzes the essential removal of 5'-single-stranded flaps during replication and repair. FEN1 achieves this by selectively catalyzing hydrolysis one nucleotide into the duplex region of substrates, always targeting the 5'-strand. This specificity is proposed to arise by unpairing the 5'-end of duplex to permit the scissile phosphate diester to contact catalytic divalent metal ions. Providing the first direct evidence for this, we detected changes induced by human FEN1 (hFEN1) in the low-energy CD spectra and fluorescence lifetimes of 2-aminopurine in substrates and products that were indicative of unpairing. Divalent metal ions were essential for unpairing. However, although 5'-nuclease superfamily-conserved active-site residues K93 and R100 were required to produce unpaired product, they were not necessary to unpair substrates. Nevertheless, a unique arrangement of protein residues around the unpaired DNA was detected only with wild-type protein, suggesting a cooperative assembly of active-site residues that may be triggered by unpaired DNA. The general principles of FEN1 strand and reaction-site selection, which depend on the ability of juxtaposed divalent metal ions to unpair the end of duplex DNA, may also apply more widely to other structure- and strand-specific nucleases.
Mitochondrial topoisomerase I is a genetically distinct mitochondria-dedicated enzyme with a crucial but so far unknown role in the homeostasis of mitochondrial DNA metabolism. Here, we present data suggesting a negative regulatory function in mitochondrial transcription or transcript stability. Deficiency or depletion of mitochondrial topoisomerase I increased mitochondrial transcripts, whereas overexpression lowered mitochondrial transcripts, depleted respiratory complexes I, III and IV, decreased cell respiration and raised superoxide levels. Acute depletion of mitochondrial topoisomerase I triggered neither a nuclear mito-biogenic stress response nor compensatory topoisomerase IIβ upregulation, suggesting the concomitant increase in mitochondrial transcripts was due to release of a local inhibitory effect. Mitochondrial topoisomerase I was co-immunoprecipitated with mitochondrial RNA polymerase. It selectively accumulated and rapidly exchanged at a subset of nucleoids distinguished by the presence of newly synthesized RNA and/or mitochondrial RNA polymerase. The inactive Y559F-mutant behaved similarly without affecting mitochondrial transcripts. In conclusion, mitochondrial topoisomerase I dampens mitochondrial transcription and thereby alters respiratory capacity. The mechanism involves selective association of the active enzyme with transcriptionally active nucleoids and a direct interaction with mitochondrial RNA polymerase. The inhibitory role of topoisomerase I in mitochondrial transcription is strikingly different from the stimulatory role of topoisomerase I in nuclear transcription.
Deleted in Azoospermia Associated Protein 1 (DAZAP1) is a ubiquitous heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein (hnRNP) that is expressed abundantly in the testis. DAZAP1 deficiency in mice results in growth retardation and spermatogenic arrest. Previous reports on DAZAP1’s binding to several naturally occurring splicing mutations support a role for DAZAP1 in RNA splicing. To elucidate the biological function(s) of DAZAP1 and to search for its natural RNA substrates, we used microarrays to compare the expression profiles and exon usages of wild-type and Dazap1 mutant testes and identified three genes (Crem, Crisp2 and Pot1a) with aberrant RNA splicing in the mutant testes. We further demonstrated that DAZAP1, but not DAZAP1 mutant proteins, promoted the inclusion of Crem exon 4, Crisp2 exon 9 and Pot1a exon 4 in splicing reporter transcripts in cultured cells. Additional studies on the binding of DAZAP1 to the exons and their flanking intronic sequences and the effects of minigene deletions on exon inclusion identified regulatory regions in Crem intron 3, Crisp2 intron 9 and Pot1a intron 4 where DAZAP1 bound and regulated splicing. Aberrant splicing of the Pot1a gene, which encodes an essential protein that protects telomere integrity, may partially account for the growth retardation phenotype of DAZAP1-deficient mice.
Type I toxin–antitoxin systems encoded on bacterial chromosomes became the focus of research during the past years. However, little is known in terms of structural requirements, kinetics of interaction with their targets and regulatory mechanisms of the antitoxin RNAs. Here, we present a combined in vitro and in vivo analysis of the bsrG/SR4 type I toxin–antitoxin system from Bacillus subtilis. The secondary structures of SR4 and bsrG mRNA and of the SR4/bsrG RNA complex were determined, apparent binding rate constants calculated and functional segments required for complex formation narrowed down. The initial contact between SR4 and its target was shown to involve the SR4 terminator loop and loop 3 of bsrG mRNA. Additionally, a contribution of the stem of SR4 stem-loop 3 to target binding was found. On SR4/bsrG complex formation, a 4 bp double-stranded region sequestering the bsrG Shine Dalgarno (SD) sequence was extended to 8 bp. Experimental evidence was obtained that this extended region caused translation inhibition of bsrG mRNA. Therefore, we conclude that SR4 does not only promote degradation of the toxin mRNA but also additionally inhibit its translation. This is the first case of a dual-acting antitoxin RNA.
The bending stiffness of double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) at high curvatures is fundamental to its biological activity, yet this regime has been difficult to probe experimentally, and literature results have not been consistent. We created a ‘molecular vise’ in which base-pairing interactions generated a compressive force on sub-persistence length segments of dsDNA. Short dsDNA strands (<41 base pairs) resisted this force and remained straight; longer strands became bent, a phenomenon called ‘Euler buckling’. We monitored the buckling transition via Förster Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET) between appended fluorophores. For low-to-moderate concentrations of monovalent salt (up to ~150 mM), our results are in quantitative agreement with the worm-like chain (WLC) model of DNA elasticity, without the need to invoke any ‘kinked’ states. Greater concentrations of monovalent salts or 1 mM Mg2+ induced an apparent softening of the dsDNA, which was best accounted for by a kink in the region of highest curvature. We tested the effects of all single-nucleotide mismatches on the DNA bending. Remarkably, the propensity to kink correlated with the thermodynamic destabilization of the mismatched DNA relative the perfectly complementary strand, suggesting that the kinked state is locally melted. The molecular vise is exquisitely sensitive to the sequence-dependent linear and nonlinear elastic properties of dsDNA.
Crystal structures of B-DNA dodecamer containing the epigenetic modifications 5-hydroxymethylcytosine or 5-methylcytosine
5-Hydroxymethylcytosine (5-hmC) was recently identified as a relatively frequent base in eukaryotic genomes. Its physiological function is still unclear, but it is supposed to serve as an intermediate in DNA de novo demethylation. Using X-ray diffraction, we solved five structures of four variants of the d(CGCGAATTCGCG) dodecamer, containing either 5-hmC or 5-methylcytosine (5-mC) at position 3 or at position 9. The observed resolutions were between 1.42 and 1.99 Å. Cytosine modification in all cases influences neither the whole B-DNA double helix structure nor the modified base pair geometry. The additional hydroxyl group of 5-hmC with rotational freedom along the C5-C5A bond is preferentially oriented in the 3' direction. A comparison of thermodynamic properties of the dodecamers shows no effect of 5-mC modification and a sequence-dependent only slight destabilizing effect of 5-hmC modification. Also taking into account the results of a previous functional study [Münzel et al. (2011) (Improved synthesis and mutagenicity of oligonucleotides containing 5-hydroxymethylcytosine, 5-formylcytosine and 5-carboxylcytosine. Chem. Eur. J., 17, 13782–13788)], we conclude that the 5 position of cytosine is an ideal place to encode epigenetic information. Like this, neither the helical structure nor the thermodynamics are changed, and polymerases cannot distinguish 5-hmC and 5-mC from unmodified cytosine, all these effects are making the former ones non-mutagenic.
RecA protein is a hallmark for the bacterial response to insults inflicted on DNA. It catalyzes the strand exchange step of homologous recombination and stimulates self-inactivation of the LexA transcriptional repressor. Importantly, by these activities, RecA contributes to the antibiotic resistance of bacteria. An original way to decrease the acquisition of antibiotic resistance would be to block RecA association with LexA. To engineer inhibitors of LexA–RecA complex formation, we have mapped the interaction area between LexA and active RecA–ssDNA filament (RecA*) and generated a three-dimensional model of the complex. The model revealed that one subunit of the LexA dimer wedges into a deep helical groove of RecA*, forming multiple interaction sites along seven consecutive RecA protomers. Based on the model, we predicted that LexA in its DNA-binding conformation also forms a complex with RecA* and that the operator DNA sterically precludes interaction with RecA*, which guides the induction of SOS gene expression. Moreover, the model shows that besides the catalytic C-terminal domain of LexA, its N-terminal DNA-binding domain also interacts with RecA*. Because all the model-based predictions have been confirmed experimentally, the presented model offers a validated insight into the critical step of the bacterial DNA damage response.
Structure of an 'open' clamp type II topoisomerase-DNA complex provides a mechanism for DNA capture and transport
Type II topoisomerases regulate DNA supercoiling and chromosome segregation. They act as ATP-operated clamps that capture a DNA duplex and pass it through a transient DNA break in a second DNA segment via the sequential opening and closure of ATPase-, G-DNA- and C-gates. Here, we present the first ‘open clamp’ structures of a 3-gate topoisomerase II-DNA complex, the seminal complex engaged in DNA recognition and capture. A high-resolution structure was solved for a (full-length ParE-ParC55)2 dimer of Streptococcus pneumoniae topoisomerase IV bound to two DNA molecules: a closed DNA gate in a B-A-B form double-helical conformation and a second B-form duplex associated with closed C-gate helices at a novel site neighbouring the catalytically important β-pinwheel DNA-binding domain. The protein N gate is present in an ‘arms-wide-open’ state with the undimerized N-terminal ParE ATPase domains connected to TOPRIM domains via a flexible joint and folded back allowing ready access both for gate and transported DNA segments and cleavage-stabilizing antibacterial drugs. The structure shows the molecular conformations of all three gates at 3.7 Å, the highest resolution achieved for the full complex to date, and illuminates the mechanism of DNA capture and transport by a type II topoisomerase.
Structural basis for Z-DNA binding and stabilization by the zebrafish Z-DNA dependent protein kinase PKZ
The RNA-dependent protein kinase PKR plays a central role in the antiviral defense of vertebrates by shutting down protein translation upon detection of viral dsRNA in the cytoplasm. In some teleost fish, PKZ, a homolog of PKR, performs the same function, but surprisingly, instead of dsRNA binding domains, it harbors two Z-DNA/Z-RNA-binding domains belonging to the Zalpha domain family. Zalpha domains have also been found in other proteins, which have key roles in the regulation of interferon responses such as ADAR1 and DNA-dependent activator of IFN-regulatory factors (DAI) and in viral proteins involved in immune response evasion such as the poxviral E3L and the Cyprinid Herpesvirus 3 ORF112. The underlying mechanism of nucleic acids binding and stabilization by Zalpha domains is still unclear. Here, we present two crystal structures of the zebrafish PKZ Zalpha domain (DrZalphaPKZ) in alternatively organized complexes with a (CG)6 DNA oligonucleotide at 2 and 1.8 Å resolution. These structures reveal novel aspects of the Zalpha interaction with DNA, and they give insights on the arrangement of multiple Zalpha domains on DNA helices longer than the minimal binding site.
Crystal structure of the DdrB/ssDNA complex from Deinococcus radiodurans reveals a DNA binding surface involving higher-order oligomeric states
The ability of Deinococcus radiodurans to recover from extensive DNA damage is due in part to its ability to efficiently repair its genome, even following severe fragmentation by hundreds of double-strand breaks. The single-strand annealing pathway plays an important role early during the recovery process, making use of a protein, DdrB, shown to greatly stimulate ssDNA annealing. Here, we report the structure of DdrB bound to ssDNA to 2.3 Å. Pentameric DdrB was found to assemble into higher-order structures that coat ssDNA. To gain further mechanistic insight into the protein's function, a number of point mutants were generated altering both DNA binding and higher order oligomerization. This work not only identifies higher-order DdrB associations but also suggests the presence of an extended DNA binding surface running along the ‘top’ surface of a DdrB pentamer and continuing down between two individual subunits of the ring structure. Together this work sheds new insight into possible mechanisms for DdrB function in which higher-order assemblies of DdrB pentamers assist in the pairing of complementary ssDNA using an extended DNA binding surface.
The key intermediate in genetic recombination is the Holliday junction (HJ), a four-way DNA structure. At the end of recombination, HJs are cleaved by specific nucleases called resolvases. In Gram-negative bacteria, this cleavage is performed by RuvC, a dimeric endonuclease that belongs to the retroviral integrase superfamily. Here, we report the first crystal structure of RuvC in complex with a synthetic HJ solved at 3.75 Å resolution. The junction in the complex is in an unfolded 2-fold symmetrical conformation, in which the four arms point toward the vertices of a tetrahedron. The two scissile phosphates are located one nucleotide from the strand exchange point, and RuvC approaches them from the minor groove side. The key protein–DNA contacts observed in the structure were verified using a thiol-based site-specific cross-linking approach. Compared with known complex structures of the phage resolvases endonuclease I and endonuclease VII, the RuvC structure exhibits striking differences in the mode of substrate binding and location of the cleavage site.
Translin is a highly conserved RNA- and DNA-binding protein that plays essential roles in eukaryotic cells. Human translin functions as an octamer, but in the octameric crystallographic structure, the residues responsible for nucleic acid binding are not accessible. Moreover, electron microscopy data reveal very different octameric configurations. Consequently, the functional assembly and the mechanism of nucleic acid binding by the protein remain unclear. Here, we present an integrative study combining small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS), site-directed mutagenesis, biochemical analysis and computational techniques to address these questions. Our data indicate a significant conformational heterogeneity for translin in solution, formed by a lesser-populated compact octameric state resembling the previously solved X-ray structure, and a highly populated open octameric state that had not been previously identified. On the other hand, our SAXS data and computational analyses of translin in complex with the RNA oligonucleotide (GU)12 show that the internal cavity found in the octameric assemblies can accommodate different nucleic acid conformations. According to this model, the nucleic acid binding residues become accessible for binding, which facilitates the entrance of the nucleic acids into the cavity. Our data thus provide a structural basis for the functions that translin performs in RNA metabolism and transport.