Modulation of Escherichia coli DNA methyltransferase activity by biologically derived GATC-flanking sequences.
ABSTRACT: Escherichia coli DNA adenine methyltransferase (EcoDam) methylates the N-6 position of the adenine in the sequence 5'-GATC-3' and plays vital roles in gene regulation, mismatch repair, and DNA replication. It remains unclear how the small number of critical GATC sites involved in the regulation of replication and gene expression are differentially methylated, whereas the approximately 20,000 GATCs important for mismatch repair and dispersed throughout the genome are extensively methylated. Our prior work, limited to the pap regulon, showed that methylation efficiency is controlled by sequences immediately flanking the GATC sites. We extend these studies to include GATC sites involved in diverse gene regulatory and DNA replication pathways as well as sites previously shown to undergo differential in vivo methylation but whose function remains to be assigned. EcoDam shows no change in affinity with variations in flanking sequences derived from these sources, but methylation kinetics varied 12-fold. A-tracts immediately adjacent to the GATC site contribute significantly to these differences in methylation kinetics. Interestingly, only when the poly(A) is located 5' of the GATC are the changes in methylation kinetics revealed. Preferential methylation is obscured when two GATC sites are positioned on the same DNA molecule, unless both sites are surrounded by large amounts of nonspecific DNA. Thus, facilitated diffusion and sequences immediately flanking target sites contribute to higher order specificity for EcoDam; we suggest that the diverse biological roles of the enzyme are in part regulated by these two factors, which may be important for other enzymes that sequence-specifically modify DNA.
Project description:DNA adenine methyltransferase (Dam) is widespread and conserved among the ?-proteobacteria. Methylation of the Ade in GATC sequences regulates diverse bacterial cell functions, including gene expression, mismatch repair and chromosome replication. Dam also controls virulence in many pathogenic Gram-negative bacteria. An unexplained and perplexing observation about Escherichia coli Dam (EcoDam) is that there is no obvious relationship between the genes that are transcriptionally responsive to Dam and the promoter-proximal presence of GATC sequences. Here, we demonstrate that EcoDam interacts with a 5-base pair non-cognate sequence distinct from GATC. The crystal structure of a non-cognate complex allowed us to identify a DNA binding element, GTYTA/TARAC (where Y = C/T and R = A/G). This element immediately flanks GATC sites in some Dam-regulated promoters, including the Pap operon which specifies pyelonephritis-associated pili. In addition, Dam interacts with near-cognate GATC sequences (i.e. 3/4-site ATC and GAT). Taken together, these results imply that Dam, in addition to being responsible for GATC methylation, could also function as a methylation-independent transcriptional repressor.
Project description:Like many eukaryotes, bacteria make widespread use of postreplicative DNA methylation for the epigenetic control of DNA-protein interactions. Unlike eukaryotes, however, bacteria use DNA adenine methylation (rather than DNA cytosine methylation) as an epigenetic signal. DNA adenine methylation plays roles in the virulence of diverse pathogens of humans and livestock animals, including pathogenic Escherichia coli, Salmonella, Vibrio, Yersinia, Haemophilus, and Brucella. In Alphaproteobacteria, methylation of adenine at GANTC sites by the CcrM methylase regulates the cell cycle and couples gene transcription to DNA replication. In Gammaproteobacteria, adenine methylation at GATC sites by the Dam methylase provides signals for DNA replication, chromosome segregation, mismatch repair, packaging of bacteriophage genomes, transposase activity, and regulation of gene expression. Transcriptional repression by Dam methylation appears to be more common than transcriptional activation. Certain promoters are active only during the hemimethylation interval that follows DNA replication; repression is restored when the newly synthesized DNA strand is methylated. In the E. coli genome, however, methylation of specific GATC sites can be blocked by cognate DNA binding proteins. Blockage of GATC methylation beyond cell division permits transmission of DNA methylation patterns to daughter cells and can give rise to distinct epigenetic states, each propagated by a positive feedback loop. Switching between alternative DNA methylation patterns can split clonal bacterial populations into epigenetic lineages in a manner reminiscent of eukaryotic cell differentiation. Inheritance of self-propagating DNA methylation patterns governs phase variation in the E. coli pap operon, the agn43 gene, and other loci encoding virulence-related cell surface functions.
Project description:Antibiotic resistance is an increasingly serious public health threat. Understanding pathways allowing bacteria to survive antibiotic stress may unveil new therapeutic targets. We explore the role of the bacterial epigenome in antibiotic stress survival using classical genetic tools and single-molecule real-time sequencing to characterize genomic methylation kinetics. We find that Escherichia coli survival under antibiotic pressure is severely compromised without adenine methylation at GATC sites. Although the adenine methylome remains stable during drug stress, without GATC methylation, methyl-dependent mismatch repair (MMR) is deleterious and, fueled by the drug-induced error-prone polymerase Pol IV, overwhelms cells with toxic DNA breaks. In multiple E. coli strains, including pathogenic and drug-resistant clinical isolates, DNA adenine methyltransferase deficiency potentiates antibiotics from the ?-lactam and quinolone classes. This work indicates that the GATC methylome provides structural support for bacterial survival during antibiotic stress and suggests targeting bacterial DNA methylation as a viable approach to enhancing antibiotic activity.
Project description:We have investigated the structural basis of processive GATC methylation by the Escherichia coli DNA adenine methyltransferase, which is critical in chromosome replication and mismatch repair. We determined the contribution of the orthologically conserved phosphate interactions involving residues Arg(95), Asn(126), Asn(132), Arg(116), and Lys(139), which directly contact the DNA outside the cognate recognition site (GATC) to processive catalysis, and that of residue Arg(137), which is not conserved and contacts the DNA backbone within the GATC sequence. Alanine substitutions at the conserved positions have large impacts on processivity yet do not impact k(cat)/K(m)(DNA) or DNA affinity (K(D)(DNA)). However, these mutants cause large preferences for GATC sites varying in flanking sequences when considering the pre-steady state efficiency constant k(chem)/K(D)(DNA). These changes occur mainly at the level of the methylation rate constant, which results in the observed decreases in processive catalysis. Thus, processivity and catalytic efficiency (k(cat)/K(m)(DNA)) are uncoupled in these mutants. These results reveal that the binding energy involved in DNA recognition contributes to the assembly of the active site rather than tight binding. Furthermore, the conserved residues (Arg(95), Asn(126), Asn(132), and Arg(116)) repress the modulation of the response of the enzyme to flanking sequence effects. Processivity impacted mutants do not show substrate-induced dimerization as is observed for the wild type enzyme. This study describes the structural means by which an enzyme that does not completely enclose its substrate has evolved to achieve processive catalysis, and how interactions with DNA flanking the recognition site alter this processivity.
Project description:DNA methylation in prokaryotes is widespread. The most common modification of the genome is the methylation of adenine at the N-6 position. In Escherichia coli K-12 and many gammaproteobacteria, this modification is catalyzed by DNA adenine methyltransferase (Dam) at the GATC consensus sequence and is known to modulate cellular processes including transcriptional regulation of gene expression, initiation of chromosomal replication, and DNA mismatch repair. While studies thus far have focused on the motifs associated with methylated adenine (meA), the frequency of meA across the genome, and temporal dynamics during early periods of incubation, here we conduct the first study on the temporal dynamics of adenine methylation in E. coli by Dam throughout all five phases of the bacterial life cycle in the laboratory. Using single-molecule real-time sequencing, we show that virtually all GATC sites are significantly methylated over time; nearly complete methylation of the chromosome was confirmed by mass spectroscopy analysis. However, we also detect 66 sites whose methylation patterns change significantly over time within a population, including three sites associated with sialic acid transport and catabolism, suggesting a potential role for Dam regulation of these genes; differential expression of this subset of genes was confirmed by quantitative real-time PCR. Further, we show significant growth defects of the dam mutant during long-term stationary phase (LTSP). Together these data suggest that the cell places a high premium on fully methylating the chromosome and that alterations in methylation patterns may have significant impact on patterns of transcription, maintenance of genetic fidelity, and cell survival. IMPORTANCE While it has been shown that methylation remains relatively constant into early stationary phase of E. coli, this study goes further through death phase and long-term stationary phase, a unique time in the bacterial life cycle due to nutrient limitation and strong selection for mutants with increased fitness. The absence of methylation at GATC sites can influence the mutation frequency within a population due to aberrant mismatch repair. Therefore, it is important to investigate the methylation status of GATC sites in an environment where cells may not prioritize methylation of the chromosome. This study demonstrates that chromosome methylation remains a priority even under conditions of nutrient limitation, indicating that continuous methylation at GATC sites could be under positive selection.
Project description:The methylation of adenine in palindromic 5'-GATC-3' sites by Escherichia coli Dam supports diverse roles, including the essential regulation of virulence genes in several human pathogens. As a result of a unique hopping mechanism, Dam methylates both strands of the same site prior to fully dissociating from the DNA, a process referred to as intrasite processivity. The application of a DpnI restriction endonuclease-based assay allowed the direct interrogation of this mechanism with a variety of DNA substrates. Intrasite processivity is disrupted when the DNA flanking a single GATC site is longer than 400 bp on either side. Interestingly, the introduction of a second GATC site within this flanking DNA reinstates intrasite methylation of both sites. Our results show that intrasite methylation occurs only when GATC sites are clustered, as is found in gene segments both known and postulated to undergo in vivo epigenetic regulation by Dam methylation. We propose a model for intrasite methylation in which Dam bound to flanking DNA is an obligate intermediate. Our results provide insights into how intrasite processivity, which appears to be context-dependent, may contribute to the diverse biological roles that are carried out by Dam.
Project description:The DNA of Serratia marcescens has N6-adenine methylation in GATC sequences. Among 2-aminopurine-sensitive mutants isolated from S. marcescens Sr41, one was identified which lacked GATC methylation. The mutant showed up to 30-fold increased spontaneous mutability and enhanced mutability after treatment with 2-aminopurine, ethyl methanesulfonate, or UV light. The gene (dam) coding for the adenine methyltransferase (Dam enzyme) of S. marcescens was identified on a gene bank plasmid which alleviated the 2-aminopurine sensitivity and the higher mutability of a dam-13::Tn9 mutant of Escherichia coli. Nucleotide sequencing revealed that the deduced amino acid sequence of Dam (270 amino acids; molecular mass, 31.3 kDa) has 72% identity to the Dam enzyme of E. coli. The dam gene is located between flanking genes which are similar to those found to the sides of the E. coli dam gene. The results of complementation studies indicated that like Dam of E. coli and unlike Dam of Vibrio cholerae, the Dam enzyme of S. marcescens plays an important role in mutation avoidance by allowing the mismatch repair enzymes to discriminate between the parental and newly synthesized strands during correction of replication errors.
Project description:DNA mismatch repair (MMR) is an evolutionarily-conserved process responsible for the repair of replication errors. In Escherichia coli, MMR is initiated by MutS and MutL, which activate MutH to incise transiently-hemimethylated GATC sites. MMR efficiency depends on the distribution of these GATC sites. To understand which molecular events determine repair efficiency, we quantitatively studied the effect of strand incision on unwinding and excision activity. The distance between mismatch and GATC site did not influence the strand incision rate, and an increase in the number of sites enhanced incision only to a minor extent. Two GATC sites were incised by the same activated MMR complex in a processive manner, with MutS, the closed form of MutL and MutH displaying different roles. Unwinding and strand excision were more efficient on a substrate with two nicks flanking the mismatch, as compared to substrates containing a single nick or two nicks on the same side of the mismatch. Introduction of multiple nicks by the human MutL? endonuclease also contributed to increased repair efficiency. Our data support a general model of prokaryotic and eukaryotic MMR in which, despite mechanistic differences, mismatch-activated complexes facilitate efficient repair by creating multiple daughter strand nicks.
Project description:The mismatch repair system (MMR) corrects replication errors that escape proofreading. Previous studies on extrachromosomal DNA in Escherichia coli suggested that MMR uses hemimethylated GATC sites to identify the newly synthesized strand. In this work we asked how the distance of GATC sites and their methylation status affect the occurrence of single base substitutions on the E. coli chromosome. As a reporter system we used a lacZ gene containing an early TAA stop codon. We found that occurrence of point mutations at this stop codon is unaffected by GATC sites located more than 115 base pairs away. However, a GATC site located about 50 base pairs away resulted in a decreased mutation rate. This effect was independent of Dam methylation. The reversion rate of the stop codon increased only slightly in dam mutants compared to mutL and mutS mutants. We suggest that unlike on extrachromosomal DNA, GATC methylation is not the only strand discrimination signal for MMR on the E. coli chromosome.
Project description:Viral mutation rates vary widely in nature, yet the mechanistic and evolutionary determinants of this variability remain unclear. Small DNA viruses mutate orders of magnitude faster than their hosts despite using host-encoded polymerases for replication, which suggests these viruses may avoid post-replicative repair. Supporting this, the genome of bacteriophage ?X174 is completely devoid of GATC sequence motifs, which are required for methyl-directed mismatch repair in Escherichia coli. Here, we show that restoration of the randomly expected number of GATC sites leads to an eightfold reduction in the rate of spontaneous mutation of the phage, without severely impairing its replicative capacity over the short term. However, the efficacy of mismatch repair in the presence of GATC sites is limited by inefficient methylation of the viral DNA. Therefore, both GATC avoidance and DNA under-methylation elevate the mutation rate of the phage relative to that of the host. We also found that the effects of GATC sites on the phage mutation rate vary extensively depending on their specific location within the phage genome. Finally, the mutation rate reduction afforded by GATC sites is fully reverted under stress conditions, which up-regulate repair pathways and expression of error-prone host polymerases such as heat and treatment with the base analog 5-fluorouracil, suggesting that access to repair renders the phage sensitive to stress-induced mutagenesis.