Expression, purification, crystallization and preliminary X-ray analysis of the DNA-binding domain of a Chlamydia trachomatis OmpR/PhoB-subfamily response regulator homolog, ChxR.
ABSTRACT: Two-component signal transduction systems in bacteria are a primary mechanism for responding to environmental stimuli and adjusting gene expression accordingly. Generally in these systems a sensor kinase phosphorylates a response regulator that regulates transcription. Response regulators contain two domains: a receiver domain and an effector domain. The receiver domain is typically phosphorylated and as a result facilitates the DNA-binding and transcriptional activity of the effector domain. The OmpR/PhoB subfamily is the largest of the response-regulator subfamilies and is primarily defined by the winged helix-turn-helix DNA-binding motif within the effector domain. The overall structure of effector domains is highly conserved and contains three defined elements that are critical for transcriptional regulation: a DNA major-groove binding helix, a DNA minor-groove binding wing and a transcriptional activation loop. These functional elements are often diverse in sequence and conformation and reflect the functional differences observed between individual subfamily members. ChxR from Chlamydia trachomatis is an atypical OmpR/PhoB response regulator homolog that has transcriptional activity in the absence of phosphorylation. To facilitate the precise identification of the functional elements of the ChxR effector domain, this protein was cloned, expressed, purified and crystallized. Crystals were obtained from two separate mother liquors, producing two morphologically distinct crystals. The space group of both crystals was P4(3)2(1)2 (or its enantiomorph P4(1)2(1)2) with isomorphous unit-cell parameters; the crystals diffracted to 2.2-2.5 A resolution.
Project description:ChxR is an atypical two-component signal transduction response regulator (RR) of the OmpR/PhoB subfamily encoded by the obligate intracellular bacterial pathogen Chlamydia trachomatis. Despite structural homology within both receiver and effector domains to prototypical subfamily members, ChxR does not require phosphorylation for dimer formation, DNA binding or transcriptional activation. Thus, we hypothesized that ChxR is in a conformation optimal for DNA binding with limited interdomain interactions. To address this hypothesis, the NMR solution structure of the ChxR effector domain was determined and used in combination with the previously reported ChxR receiver domain structure to generate a full-length dimer model based upon SAXS analysis. Small-angle scattering of ChxR supported a dimer with minimal interdomain interactions and effector domains in a conformation that appears to require only subtle reorientation for optimal major/minor groove DNA interactions. SAXS modeling also supported that the effector domains were in a head-to-tail conformation, consistent with ChxR recognizing tandem DNA repeats. The effector domain structure was leveraged to identify key residues that were critical for maintaining protein - nucleic acid interactions. In combination with prior analysis of the essential location of specific nucleotides for ChxR recognition of DNA, a model of the full-length ChxR dimer bound to its cognate cis-acting element was generated.
Project description:Typically as a result of phosphorylation, OmpR/PhoB response regulators form homodimers through a receiver domain as an integral step in transcriptional activation. Phosphorylation stabilizes the ionic and hydrophobic interactions between monomers. Recent studies have shown that some response regulators retain functional activity in the absence of phosphorylation and are termed atypical response regulators. The two currently available receiver domain structures of atypical response regulators are very similar to their phospho-accepting homologs, and their propensity to form homodimers is generally retained. An atypical response regulator, ChxR, from Chlamydia trachomatis, was previously reported to form homodimers; however, the residues critical to this interaction have not been elucidated. We hypothesize that the intra- and intermolecular interactions involved in forming a transcriptionally competent ChxR are distinct from the canonical phosphorylation (activation) paradigm in the OmpR/PhoB response regulator subfamily. To test this hypothesis, structural and functional studies were performed on the receiver domain of ChxR. Two crystal structures of the receiver domain were solved with the recently developed method using triiodo compound I3C. These structures revealed many characteristics unique to OmpR/PhoB subfamily members: typical or atypical. Included was the absence of two ?-helices present in all other OmpR/PhoB response regulators. Functional studies on various dimer interface residues demonstrated that ChxR forms relatively stable homodimers through hydrophobic interactions, and disruption of these can be accomplished with the introduction of a charged residue within the dimer interface. A gel shift study with monomeric ChxR supports that dimerization through the receiver domain is critical for interaction with DNA.
Project description:Two-component signal transduction systems are widespread in bacteria and are essential regulatory mechanisms for many biological processes. These systems predominantly rely on a sensor kinase to phosphorylate a response regulator for controlling activity, which is frequently transcriptional regulation. In recent years, an increasing number of atypical response regulators have been discovered in phylogenetically diverse bacteria. These atypical response regulators are not controlled by phosphorylation and exhibit transcriptional activity in their wild-type form. Relatively little is known regarding the mechanisms utilized by these atypical response regulators and the conserved characteristics of these atypical response regulators. Chlamydia spp. are medically important bacteria and encode an atypical OmpR/PhoB subfamily response regulator termed ChxR. In this study, protein expression analysis supports that ChxR is likely exerting its effect during the middle and late stages of the chlamydial developmental cycle, stages that include the formation of infectious elementary bodies. In the absence of detectable phosphorylation, ChxR formed homodimers in vitro and in vivo, similar to a phosphorylated OmpR/PhoB subfamily response regulator. ChxR was demonstrated to bind to its own promoter in vivo, supporting the role of ChxR as an autoactivator. Detailed analysis of the ChxR binding sites within its own promoter revealed a conserved cis-acting motif that includes a tandem repeat sequence. ChxR binds specifically to each of the individual sites and exhibits a relatively large spectrum of differential affinity. Taken together, these observations support the conclusion that ChxR, in the absence of phosphorylation, exhibits many of the characteristics of a phosphorylated (active) OmpR/PhoB subfamily response regulator.
Project description:Chlamydia spp. are obligate intracellular bacterial pathogens that alternate between two metabolically and morphologically distinct developmental forms, and differentiation depends on transcriptional regulation. Genome sequencing of Chlamydia trachomatis revealed an ORF, CT630 (chxR), whose amino acid sequence contains a winged helix-turn-helix motif similar to the DNA-binding domain of response regulators in the OmpR subfamily. ChxR differs from many response regulators in that essential residues in the receiver or phosphorylation domain are lacking. ChxR functions as a transcriptional regulator because it activated transcription of ompF and ompC when expressed in Escherichia coli. In vitro transcription combined with microarray analysis also demonstrated that ChxR activates its own expression by binding directly to sites upstream of chxR; it also activates infA, tufA, oppA, and CT084. DNase I protection studies showed that ChxR bound to sites in the ompF and ompC promoter proximal regions that overlap but were distinct from OmpR binding sites. Both proteins could bind simultaneously to their nonoverlapping binding sites. This report identifies a stage-specific transcriptional regulator and some of its target genes in Chlamydia.
Project description:The response regulator VicR from the Gram-positive bacterium Enterococcus faecalis forms part of the two-component signal transduction system of the YycFG subfamily. The structure of the DNA-binding domain of VicR, VicR(c), has been solved and belongs to the winged helix-turn-helix family. It is very similar to the DNA-binding domains of Escherichia coli PhoB and OmpR, despite low sequence similarity, but differs in two important loops. The alpha-loop, which links the two helices of the helix-turn-helix motif, is similar to that of PhoB, where it has been implicated in contacting the sigma subunit of RNA polymerase, but differs from that of OmpR. Conversely, the loop following the helix-turn-helix motif is similar to that of OmpR and differs from that of PhoB. YycF/VicR, PhoB and Bacillus subtilis PhoP regulators all recognize almost identical DNA sequences and although there is currently no experimental evidence linking this loop with the DNA, the structure is consistent with possible involvement in selective DNA recognition or binding.
Project description:The structure of MtrA, an essential gene product for the human pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis, has been solved to a resolution of 2.1 A. MtrA is a member of the OmpR/PhoB family of response regulators and represents the fourth family member for which a structure of the protein in its inactive state has been determined. As is true for all OmpR/PhoB family members, MtrA possesses an N-terminal regulatory domain and a C-terminal winged helix-turn-helix DNA-binding domain, with phosphorylation of the regulatory domain modulating the activity of the protein. In the inactive form of MtrA, these two domains form an extensive interface that is composed of the alpha4-beta5-alpha5 face of the regulatory domain and the C-terminal end of the positioning helix, the trans-activation loop, and the recognition helix of the DNA-binding domain. This domain orientation suggests a mechanism of mutual inhibition by the two domains. Activation of MtrA would require a disruption of this interface to allow the alpha4-beta5-alpha5 face of the regulatory domain to form the intermolecule interactions that are associated with the active state and to allow the recognition helix to interact with DNA. Furthermore, the interface appears to stabilize the inactive conformation of MtrA, potentially reducing the rate of phosphorylation of the N-terminal domain. This combination of effects may form a switch, regulating the activity of MtrA. The domain orientation exhibited by MtrA also provides a rationale for the variation in linker length that is observed within the OmpR/PhoB family of response regulators.
Project description:Response regulators undergo regulated phosphorylation and dephosphorylation at conserved aspartic acid residues in bacterial signal transduction systems. OmpR is a winged helix-turnhelix DNA-binding protein that functions as a global regulator in bacteria and is also important in pathogenesis. A detailed mechanistic picture of how OmpR binds to DNA and activates transcription is lacking. We used NMR spectroscopy to solve the solution structure of the C-terminal domain of OmpR (OmpR(C)) and to analyze the chemical shift changes that occur upon DNA binding. There is little overlap in the interaction surface with residues of PhoB that were reportedly involved in protein/protein interactions in its head-to-tail dimer. Multiple factors account for the lack of overlap. One is that the spacing between the OmpR half-sites is shorter than observed with PhoB, requiring the arrangement of the two OmpR molecules to be different from that of the PhoB dimer on DNA. A second is the demonstration herein that OmpR can bind to its high affinity site as a monomer. As a result, OmpR(C) appears to be capable of adopting alternative orientations depending on the precise base composition of the binding site, which also contributes to the lack of overlap. In the presence of DNA, chemical shift changes occur in OmpR in the recognition alpha-helix 3, the loop between beta-strand 4 and alpha-helix 1, and the loop between beta-strands 5 and 6. DNA contact residues are Val(203) (T), Arg(207) (G), and Arg(209) (phosphate backbone). Our results suggest that OmpR binds to DNA as a monomer and then forms a symmetric or asymmetric dimer, depending on the binding site. We propose that during activation OmpR binds to DNA and undergoes a conformational change that promotes phosphorylation of the N-terminal receiver domain, the receiver domains dimerize, and then the second monomer binds to DNA. The flexible linker of OmpR enables the second monomer to bind in multiple orientations (head-to-tail and head-to-head), depending on the specific DNA contacts.
Project description:PhoB is a two-component response regulator that activates transcription by interacting with the ?(70) subunit of the E. coli RNA polymerase in promoters in which the -35 ?(70)-recognition element is replaced by the pho box. The crystal structure of a transcription initiation subcomplex that includes the ?(4) domain of ?(70) fused with the RNA polymerase ? subunit flap tip helix, the PhoB effector domain and the pho box DNA reveals how ?(4) recognizes the upstream pho box repeat. As with the -35 element, ?(4) achieves this recognition through the N-terminal portion of its DNA recognition helix, but contact with the DNA major groove is less extensive. Unexpectedly, the same recognition helix contacts the transactivation loop and helices ?2 and ?3 of PhoB. This result shows a simple and elegant mechanism for polymerase recruitment to pho box promoters in which the lost -35 element contacts are compensated by new ones with the activator. In addition, ?(4) is reoriented, thereby suggesting a remodelling mechanism for transcription initiation.
Project description:The N-terminal regulatory domains of bacterial response regulator proteins catalyze phosphoryl transfer and function as phosphorylation-dependent regulatory switches to control the output activities of C-terminal effector domains. Structures of numerous isolated regulatory and effector domains have been determined. However, a detailed understanding of regulatory interactions among these domains has been limited by the relative paucity of structural data for intact multidomain response regulator proteins. The first multidomain structures determined, those of transcription factor NarL and methylesterase CheB, both revealed extensive interdomain interfaces. The regulatory domains obstruct access to the functional sites of the effector domains, indicating a regulatory mechanism based on inhibition. In contrast, the recently determined structure of the OmpR/PhoB homologue DrrD revealed no significant interdomain interface, suggesting that the domains are tethered by a flexible linker and lack a fixed orientation relative to each other. To address the generality of this feature, we have determined the 1.8-A resolution crystal structure of Thermotoga maritima DrrB, providing a second structure of a multidomain response regulator of the OmpR/PhoB subfamily. The structure reveals an extensive domain interface of 751 A(2) and therefore differs greatly from that observed in DrrD. Residues that are crucial players in defining the activation state of the regulatory domain contribute to this interface, implying that conformational changes associated with phosphorylation will influence these intramolecular contacts. The DrrB and DrrD structures are suggestive of different signaling mechanisms, with intramolecular communication between N- and C-terminal domains making substantially different contributions to effector domain regulation in individual members of the OmpR/PhoB family.
Project description:Response regulators (RRs), which undergo phosphorylation/dephosphorylation at aspartate residues, are highly prevalent in bacterial signal transduction. RRs typically contain an N-terminal receiver domain that regulates the activities of a C-terminal DNA binding domain in a phosphorylation-dependent manner. We present crystallography and solution NMR data for the receiver domain of Escherichia coli PhoB which show distinct 2-fold symmetric dimers in the inactive and active states. These structures, together with the previously determined structure of the C-terminal domain of PhoB bound to DNA, define the conformation of the active transcription factor and provide a model for the mechanism of activation in the OmpR/PhoB subfamily, the largest group of RRs. In the active state, the receiver domains dimerize with 2-fold rotational symmetry using their alpha4-beta5-alpha5 faces, while the effector domains bind to DNA direct repeats with tandem symmetry, implying a loss of intramolecular interactions.