Two self-splicing group I introns in the ribonucleotide reductase large subunit gene of Staphylococcus aureus phage Twort.
ABSTRACT: We have recently described three group I introns inserted into a single gene, orf142, of the staphylococcal bacteriophage Twort and suggested the presence of at least two additional self-splicing introns in this phage genome. Here we report that two previously uncharacterized introns, 429 and 1087 nt in length, interrupt the Twort gene coding for the large subunit of ribonucleotide reductase (nrdE). Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) of RNA isolated from Staphylococcus aureus after phage infection indicates that the introns are removed from the primary transcript in vivo. Both nrdE introns show sequence similarity to the Twort orf142 introns I2 and I3, suggesting either a common origin of these introns or shuffling of intron structural elements. Intron 2 encodes a DNA endonuclease, I-TwoI, with similarity to homing endonucleases of the HNH family. Like I-HmuI and I-HmuII, intron-encoded HNH endonucleases in Bacillus subtilis phages SPO1 and SP82, I-TwoI nicks only one strand of its DNA recognition sequence. However, whereas I-HmuI and I-HmuII cleave the template strand in exon 2, I-TwoI cleaves the coding strand in exon 1. In each case, the 3' OH created on the cut strand is positioned to prime DNA synthesis towards the intron, suggesting that this reaction contributes to the mechanism of intron homing. Both nrdE introns are inserted in highly conserved regions of the ribonucleotide reductase gene, next to codons for functionally important residues.
Project description:Here we describe the discovery of a group I intron in the DNA polymerase gene of Bacillus thuringiensis phage Bastille. Although the intron insertion site is identical to that of the Bacillus subtilis phages SPO1 and SP82 introns, the Bastille intron differs from them substantially in primary and secondary structure. Like the SPO1 and SP82 introns, the Bastille intron encodes a nicking DNA endonuclease of the H-N-H family, I-BasI, with a cleavage site identical to that of the SPO1-encoded enzyme I-HmuI. Unlike I-HmuI, which nicks both intron-minus and intron-plus DNA, I-BasI cleaves only intron-minus alleles, which is a characteristic of typical homing endonucleases. Interestingly, the C-terminal portions of these H-N-H phage endonucleases contain a conserved sequence motif, the intron-encoded endonuclease repeat motif (IENR1) that also has been found in endonucleases of the GIY-YIG family, and which likely comprises a small DNA-binding module with a globular betabetaalphaalphabeta fold, suggestive of module shuffling between different homing endonuclease families.
Project description:The ribonucleotide reductase gene tandem bnrdE/bnrdF in SPbeta-related prophages of different Bacillus spp. isolates presents different configurations of intervening sequences, comprising one to three of six non-homologous splicing elements. Insertion sites of group I introns and intein DNA are clustered in three relatively short segments encoding functionally important domains of the ribonucleotide reductase. Comparison of the bnrdE homologs reveals mutual exclusion of a group I intron and an intein coding sequence flanking the codon that specifies a conserved cysteine. In vivo splicing was demonstrated for all introns. However, for two of them a part of the mRNA precursor molecules remains unspliced. Intergenic bnrdE-bnrdF regions are unexpectedly long, comprising between 238 and 541 nt. The longest encodes a putative polypeptide related to HNH homing endonucleases.
Project description:Several group I introns have been previously found in strains of the Bacillus cereus group at three different insertion sites in the nrdE gene of the essential nrdIEF operon coding for ribonucleotide reductase. Here, we identify an uncharacterized group IA intron in the nrdF gene in 12 strains of the B. cereus group and show that the pre-mRNA is efficiently spliced. The Bacillus thuringiensis ssp. pakistani nrdF intron encodes a homing endonuclease, denoted I-BthII, with an unconventional GIY-(X)8-YIG motif that cleaves an intronless nrdF gene 7 nt upstream of the intron insertion site, producing 2-nt 3' extensions. We also found four additional occurrences of two of the previously reported group I introns in the nrdE gene of 25 sequenced B. thuringiensis and one B. cereus strains, and one non-annotated group I intron at a fourth nrdE insertion site in the B. thuringiensis ssp. Al Hakam sequenced genome. Two strains contain introns in both the nrdE and the nrdF genes. Phylogenetic studies of the nrdIEF operon from 39 strains of the B. cereus group suggest several events of horizontal gene transfer for two of the introns found in this operon.
Project description:Mobile group I introns are RNA splicing elements that have been invaded by endonuclease genes. These endonucleases facilitate intron mobility by a unidirectional, duplicative gene-conversion process known as homing . Survival of the invading endonuclease depends upon its ability to promote intron mobility. Therefore, the endonuclease must either quickly change its cleavage specificity to match the site of intron insertion, or it must already be preadapted to cleave this sequence. Here we show that the group I intron in the DNA polymerase gene of T7-like bacteriophage PhiI is mobile, dependent upon its intronic HNH homing endonuclease gene, I-TslI. We also show that gene 5.3 of phage T3, located adjacent to its intronless DNA polymerase gene, is a homologous homing endonuclease gene whose protein product initiates efficient spread of gene 5.3 into empty sites in related phages. Both of these endonucleases cleave intronless DNA polymerase genes at identical positions. This shared feature between an intronic and free-standing endonuclease is unprecedented. Based on this evidence, we propose that introns and their homing endonucleases evolve separately to target the same highly conserved sequences, uniting afterwards to create a composite mobile element.
Project description:Homing endonucleases are site-specific DNA endonucleases that typically function as mobile genetic elements by introducing a double-strand break (DSB) in genomes that lack the endonuclease, resulting in a unidirectional gene conversion event that mobilizes the homing endonuclease gene and flanking DNA. Here, we characterize phage T4-encoded mobE, a predicted free-standing HNH family homing endonuclease. We show that mobE is promoterless and dependent on upstream transcription for expression, and that an internal intrinsic terminator regulates mobE transcript levels. Crucially, in vivo mapping experiments revealed a MobE-dependent, strand-specific nick in the non-coding strand of the nrdB gene of phage T2. An internal deletion of the predicted HNH catalytic motif of MobE abolishes nicking, and reduces high-frequency inheritance of mobE. Sequence polymorphisms of progeny phage that inherit mobE are consistent with DSB repair pathways. Significantly, we found that mobility of the neighboring I-TevIII, a defunct homing endonuclease encoded within a group I intron interrupting the nrdB gene of phage T4, was dependent on an intact mobE gene. Thus, our data indicate that the stagnant nrdB intron and I-TevIII are mobilized in trans as a consequence of a MobE-dependent gene conversion event, facilitating persistence of genetic elements that have no inherent means of promoting their own mobility.
Project description:The essential Bacillus anthracis nrdE gene carries a self-splicing group I intron with a putative homing endonuclease belonging to the GIY-YIG family. Here, we show that the nrdE pre-mRNA is spliced and that the homing endonuclease cleaves an intronless nrdE gene 5 nucleotides (nt) upstream of the intron insertion site, producing 2-nt 3' extensions. We also show that the sequence required for efficient cleavage spans at least 4 bp upstream and 31 bp downstream of the cleaved coding strand. The position of the recognition sequence in relation to the cleavage position is as expected for a GIY-YIG homing endonuclease. Interestingly, nrdE genes from several other Bacillaceae were also susceptible to cleavage, with those of Bacillus cereus, Staphylococcus epidermidis (nrdE1), B. anthracis, and Bacillus thuringiensis serovar konkukian being better substrates than those of Bacillus subtilis, Bacillus lichenformis, and S. epidermidis (nrdE2). On the other hand, nrdE genes from Lactococcus lactis, Escherichia coli, Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium, and Corynebacterium ammoniagenes were not cleaved. Intervening sequences (IVSs) residing in protein-coding genes are often found in enzymes involved in DNA metabolism, and the ribonucleotide reductase nrdE gene is a frequent target for self-splicing IVSs. A comparison of nrdE genes from seven gram-positive low-G+C bacteria, two bacteriophages, and Nocardia farcinica showed five different insertion sites for self-splicing IVSs within the coding region of the nrdE gene.
Project description:In bacterial and phage genomes, coding regions are sometimes interrupted by self-splicing introns or inteins, which can encode mobility-promoting homing endonucleases. Homing endonuclease genes are also found free-standing (not intron- or intein-encoded) in phage genomes where they are inserted in intergenic regions. One example is the HNH family endonuclease, mobE, inserted between the large (nrdA) and small (nrdB) subunit genes of aerobic ribonucleotide reductase (RNR) of T-even phages T4, RB2, RB3, RB15, and LZ7. Here, we describe an insertion of mobE into the nrdA gene of Aeromonas hydrophila phage Aeh1. The insertion creates a unique genes-in-pieces arrangement, where nrdA is split into two independent genes, nrdA-a and nrdA-b, each encoding cysteine residues that correspond to the active-site residues of uninterrupted NrdA proteins. Remarkably, the mobE insertion does not inactivate NrdA function, although the insertion is not a self-splicing intron or intein. We copurified the NrdA-a, NrdA-b, and NrdB proteins as complex from Aeh1-infected cells and also showed that a reconstituted complex has RNR activity. Class I RNR activity in phage Aeh1 is thus assembled from separate proteins that interact to form a composite active site, demonstrating that the mobE insertion is phenotypically neutral in that its presence as an intervening sequence does not disrupt the function of the surrounding gene.
Project description:The homing endonuclease I-Ssp6803I causes the insertion of a group I intron into a bacterial tRNA gene-the only example of an invasive mobile intron within a bacterial genome. Using a computational fold prediction, mutagenic screen and crystal structure determination, we demonstrate that this protein is a tetrameric PD-(D/E)-XK endonuclease - a fold normally used to protect a bacterial genome from invading DNA through the action of restriction endonucleases. I-Ssp6803I uses its tetrameric assembly to promote recognition of a single long target site, whereas restriction endonuclease tetramers facilitate cooperative binding and cleavage of two short sites. The limited use of the PD-(D/E)-XK nucleases by mobile introns stands in contrast to their frequent use of LAGLIDADG and HNH endonucleases - which in turn, are rarely incorporated into restriction/modification systems.
Project description:Homing endonucleases are unusual enzymes, capable of recognizing lengthy DNA sequences and cleaving site-specifically within genomes. Many homing endonucleases are encoded within group I introns, and such enzymes promote the mobility reactions of these introns. Phage T4 has three group I introns, within the td, nrdB and nrdD genes. The td and nrdD introns are mobile, whereas the nrdB intron is not. Phage RB3 is a close relative of T4 and has a lengthier nrdB intron. Here, we describe I-TevIII, the H-N-H endonuclease encoded by the RB3 nrdB intron. In contrast to previous reports, we demonstrate that this intron is mobile, and that this mobility is dependent on I-TevIII, which generates 2-nt 3' extensions. The enzyme has a distinct catalytic domain, which contains the H-N-H motif, and DNA-binding domain, which contains two zinc fingers required for interaction with the DNA substrate. Most importantly, I-TevIII, unlike the H-N-H endonucleases described so far, makes a double-strand break on the DNA homing site by acting as a dimer. Through deletion analysis, the dimerization interface was mapped to the DNA-binding domain. The unusual propensity of I-TevIII to dimerize to achieve cleavage of both DNA strands underscores the versatility of the H-N-H enzyme family.
Project description:Group I introns are inserted into genes of a wide variety of bacteriophages of gram-positive bacteria. However, among the phages of enteric and other gram-negative proteobacteria, introns have been encountered only in phage T4 and several of its close relatives. Here we report the insertion of a self-splicing group I intron in the coding sequence of the DNA polymerase genes of PhiI and W31, phages that are closely related to T7. The introns belong to subgroup IA2 and both contain an open reading frame, inserted into structural element P6a, encoding a protein belonging to the HNH family of homing endonucleases. The introns splice efficiently in vivo and self-splice in vitro under mild conditions of ionic strength and temperature. We conclude that there is no barrier for maintenance of group I introns in phages of proteobacteria.