The structure of a bacterial DUF199/WhiA protein: domestication of an invasive endonuclease.
ABSTRACT: Proteins of the DUF199 family, present in all Gram-positive bacteria and best characterized by the WhiA sporulation control factor in Streptomyces coelicolor, are thought to act as genetic regulators. The crystal structure of the DUF199/WhiA protein from Thermatoga maritima demonstrates that these proteins possess a bipartite structure, in which a degenerate N-terminal LAGLIDADG homing endonuclease (LHE) scaffold is tethered to a C-terminal helix-turn-helix (HTH) domain. The LHE domain has lost those residues critical for metal binding and catalysis, and also displays an extensively altered DNA-binding surface as compared with homing endonucleases. The HTH domain most closely resembles related regions of several bacterial sigma70 factors that bind the -35 regions of bacterial promoters. The structure illustrates how an invasive element might be transformed during evolution into a larger assemblage of protein folds that can participate in the regulation of a complex biological pathway.
Project description:Sporulation in the filamentous bacteria Streptomyces coelicolor is a tightly regulated process involving aerial hyphae growth, chromosome segregation, septation and spore maturation. Genetic studies have identified numerous genes that regulate sporulation, including WhiA and the sigma factor WhiG. WhiA, which has been postulated to be a transcriptional regulator, contains two regions typically associated with DNA binding: an N-terminal domain similar to LAGLIDADG homing endonucleases, and a C-terminal helix-turn-helix domain. We characterized several in vitro activities displayed by WhiA. It binds at least two sporulation-specific promoters: its own and that of parABp(2). DNA binding is primarily driven by its HTH domain, but requires full-length protein for maximum affinity. WhiA transcription is stimulated by WhiG, while the WhiA protein binds directly to WhiG (leading to inhibition of WhiG-dependent transcription). These separate activities, which resemble a possible feedback loop, may help coordinate the closely timed cessation of aerial growth and subsequent spore formation.
Project description:Although engineered LAGLIDADG homing endonucleases (LHEs) are finding increasing applications in biotechnology, their generation remains a challenging, industrial-scale process. As new single-chain LAGLIDADG nuclease scaffolds are identified, however, an alternative paradigm is emerging: identification of an LHE scaffold whose native cleavage site is a close match to a desired target sequence, followed by small-scale engineering to modestly refine recognition specificity. The application of this paradigm could be accelerated if methods were available for fusing N- and C-terminal domains from newly identified LHEs into chimeric enzymes with hybrid cleavage sites. Here we have analyzed the structural requirements for fusion of domains extracted from six single-chain I-OnuI family LHEs, spanning 40-70% amino acid identity. Our analyses demonstrate that both the LAGLIDADG helical interface residues and the linker peptide composition have important effects on the stability and activity of chimeric enzymes. Using a simple domain fusion method in which linker peptide residues predicted to contact their respective domains are retained, and in which limited variation is introduced into the LAGLIDADG helix and nearby interface residues, catalytically active enzymes were recoverable for ≈ 70% of domain chimeras. This method will be useful for creating large numbers of chimeric LHEs for genome engineering applications.
Project description:The DNA binding protein WhiA is conserved in Gram-positive bacteria and is present in the genetically simple cell wall-lacking mycoplasmas. The protein shows homology to eukaryotic homing endonucleases but lacks nuclease activity. WhiA was first characterized in streptomycetes, where it regulates the expression of key differentiation genes, including the cell division gene ftsZ, which is essential for sporulation. For Bacillus subtilis, it was shown that WhiA is essential when certain cell division genes are deleted. However, in B. subtilis, WhiA is not required for sporulation, and it does not seem to function as a transcription factor, despite its DNA binding activity. The exact function of B. subtilis WhiA remains elusive. We noticed that whiA mutants show an increased space between their nucleoids, and here, we describe the results of fluorescence microscopy, genetic, and transcriptional experiments to further investigate this phenomenon. It appeared that the deletion of whiA is synthetic lethal when either the DNA replication and segregation regulator ParB or the DNA replication inhibitor YabA is absent. However, WhiA does not seem to affect replication initiation. We found that a ?whiA mutant is highly sensitive for DNA-damaging agents. Further tests revealed that the deletion of parAB induces the SOS response, including the cell division inhibitor YneA. When yneA was inactivated, the viability of the synthetic lethal ?whiA ?parAB mutant was restored. However, the nucleoid segregation phenotype remained. These findings underline the importance of WhiA for cell division and indicate that the protein also plays a role in DNA segregation.IMPORTANCE The conserved WhiA protein family can be found in most Gram-positive bacteria, including the genetically simple cell wall-lacking mycoplasmas, and these proteins play a role in cell division. WhiA has some homology with eukaryotic homing endonucleases but lacks nuclease activity. Because of its DNA binding activity, it is assumed that the protein functions as a transcription factor, but this is not the case in the model system B. subtilis The function of this protein in B. subtilis remains unclear. We noticed that a whiA mutant has a mild chromosome segregation defect. Further studies of this phenomenon provided new support for a functional role of WhiA in cell division and indicated that the protein is required for normal chromosome segregation.
Project description:WhiA is a highly unusual transcriptional regulator related to a family of eukaryotic homing endonucleases. WhiA is required for sporulation in the filamentous bacterium Streptomyces, but WhiA homologues of unknown function are also found throughout the Gram-positive bacteria. To better understand the role of WhiA in Streptomyces development and its function as a transcription factor, we identified the WhiA regulon through a combination of chromatin immunoprecipitation-sequencing (ChIP-seq) and microarray transcriptional profiling, exploiting a new model organism for the genus, Streptomyces venezuelae, which sporulates in liquid culture. The regulon encompasses ~240 transcription units, and WhiA appears to function almost equally as an activator and as a repressor. Bioinformatic analysis of the upstream regions of the complete regulon, combined with DNase I footprinting, identified a short but highly conserved asymmetric sequence, GACAC, associated with the majority of WhiA targets. Construction of a null mutant showed that whiA is required for the initiation of sporulation septation and chromosome segregation in S. venezuelae, and several genes encoding key proteins of the Streptomyces cell division machinery, such as ftsZ, ftsW, and ftsK, were found to be directly activated by WhiA during development. Several other genes encoding proteins with important roles in development were also identified as WhiA targets, including the sporulation-specific sigma factor (WhiG) and the diguanylate cyclase CdgB. Cell division is tightly coordinated with the orderly arrest of apical growth in the sporogenic cell, and filP, encoding a key component of the polarisome that directs apical growth, is a direct target for WhiA-mediated repression during sporulation.
Project description:LAGLIDADG homing endonucleases (LHEs) are compact endonucleases with 20-22 bp recognition sites, and thus are ideal scaffolds for engineering site-specific DNA cleavage enzymes for genome editing applications. Here, we describe a general approach to LHE engineering that combines rational design with directed evolution, using a yeast surface display high-throughput cleavage selection. This approach was employed to alter the binding and cleavage specificity of the I-Anil LHE to recognize a mutation in the mouse Bruton tyrosine kinase (Btk) gene causative for mouse X-linked immunodeficiency (XID)-a model of human X-linked agammaglobulinemia (XLA). The required re-targeting of I-AniI involved progressive resculpting of the DNA contact interface to accommodate nine base differences from the native cleavage sequence. The enzyme emerging from the progressive engineering process was specific for the XID mutant allele versus the wild-type (WT) allele, and exhibited activity equivalent to WT I-AniI in vitro and in cellulo reporter assays. Fusion of the enzyme to a site-specific DNA binding domain of transcription activator-like effector (TALE) resulted in a further enhancement of gene editing efficiency. These results illustrate the potential of LHE enzymes as specific and efficient tools for therapeutic genome engineering.
Project description:<h4>Unlabelled</h4>WhiA is a highly unusual transcriptional regulator related to a family of eukaryotic homing endonucleases. WhiA is required for sporulation in the filamentous bacterium Streptomyces, but WhiA homologues of unknown function are also found throughout the Gram-positive bacteria. To better understand the role of WhiA in Streptomyces development and its function as a transcription factor, we identified the WhiA regulon through a combination of chromatin immunoprecipitation-sequencing (ChIP-seq) and microarray transcriptional profiling, exploiting a new model organism for the genus, Streptomyces venezuelae, which sporulates in liquid culture. The regulon encompasses ~240 transcription units, and WhiA appears to function almost equally as an activator and as a repressor. Bioinformatic analysis of the upstream regions of the complete regulon, combined with DNase I footprinting, identified a short but highly conserved asymmetric sequence, GACAC, associated with the majority of WhiA targets. Construction of a null mutant showed that whiA is required for the initiation of sporulation septation and chromosome segregation in S. venezuelae, and several genes encoding key proteins of the Streptomyces cell division machinery, such as ftsZ, ftsW, and ftsK, were found to be directly activated by WhiA during development. Several other genes encoding proteins with important roles in development were also identified as WhiA targets, including the sporulation-specific sigma factor ?(WhiG) and the diguanylate cyclase CdgB. Cell division is tightly coordinated with the orderly arrest of apical growth in the sporogenic cell, and filP, encoding a key component of the polarisome that directs apical growth, is a direct target for WhiA-mediated repression during sporulation.<h4>Importance</h4>Since the initial identification of the genetic loci required for Streptomyces development, all of the bld and whi developmental master regulators have been cloned and characterized, and significant progress has been made toward understanding the cell biological processes that drive morphogenesis. A major challenge now is to connect the cell biological processes and the developmental master regulators by dissecting the regulatory networks that link the two. Studies of these regulatory networks have been greatly facilitated by the recent introduction of Streptomyces venezuelae as a new model system for the genus, a species that sporulates in liquid culture. Taking advantage of S. venezuelae, we have characterized the regulon of genes directly under the control of one of these master regulators, WhiA. Our results implicate WhiA in the direct regulation of key steps in sporulation, including the cessation of aerial growth, the initiation of cell division, and chromosome segregation.
Project description:LAGLIDADG homing endonucleases (LHEs) cleave 18-24 bp DNA sequences and are promising enzymes for applications requiring sequence-specific DNA cleavage amongst genome-sized DNA backgrounds. Here, we report a method for cell surface display of LHEs, which facilitates analysis of their DNA binding and cleavage properties by flow cytometry. Cells expressing surface LHEs can be stained with fluorescently conjugated double-stranded oligonucleotides (dsOligos) containing their respective target sequences. The signal is absolutely sequence specific and undetectable with dsOligos carrying single base-pair substitutions. LHE-dsOligo interactions facilitate rapid enrichment and viable recovery of rare LHE expressing cells by both fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) and magnetic cell sorting (MACS). Additionally, dsOligos conjugated with unique fluorophores at opposite termini can be tethered to the cell surface and used to detect DNA cleavage. Recapitulation of DNA binding and cleavage by surface-displayed LHEs provides a high-throughput approach to library screening that should facilitate rapid identification and analysis of enzymes with novel sequence specificities.
Project description:Homing endonucleases (HEs) cut long DNA target sites with high specificity to initiate and target the lateral transfer of mobile introns or inteins. This high site specificity of HEs makes them attractive reagents for gene targeting to promote DNA modification or repair. We have generated several hundred catalytically active, monomerized versions of the well-characterized homodimeric I-CreI and I-MsoI LAGLIDADG family homing endonuclease (LHE) proteins. Representative monomerized I-CreI and I-MsoI proteins (collectively termed mCreIs or mMsoIs) were characterized in detail by using a combination of biochemical, biophysical and structural approaches. We also demonstrated that both mCreI and mMsoI proteins can promote cleavage-dependent recombination in human cells. The use of single chain LHEs should simplify gene modification and targeting by requiring the expression of a single small protein in cells, rather than the coordinate expression of two separate protein coding genes as is required when using engineered heterodimeric zinc finger or homing endonuclease proteins.
Project description:LAGLIDADG homing endonucleases (LHEs) are a class of rare-cleaving nucleases that possess several unique attributes for genome engineering applications. An important approach for advancing LHE technology is the generation of a library of design ‘starting points’ through the discovery and characterization of natural LHEs with diverse specificities. However, while identification of natural LHE proteins by sequence homology from genomic and metagenomic sequence databases is straightforward, prediction of corresponding target sequences from genomic data remains challenging. Here, we describe a general approach that we developed to circumvent this issue that combines two technologies: yeast surface display (YSD) of LHEs and systematic evolution of ligands via exponential enrichment (SELEX). Using LHEs expressed on the surface of yeast, we show that SELEX can yield binding specificity motifs and identify cleavable LHE targets using a combination of bioinformatics and biochemical cleavage assays. This approach, which we term YSD-SELEX, represents a simple and rapid first principles approach to determining the binding and cleavage specificity of novel LHEs that should also be generally applicable to any type of yeast surface expressible DNA-binding protein. In this marriage, SELEX adds DNA specificity determination to the YSD platform, and YSD brings diagnostics and inexpensive, facile protein-matrix generation to SELEX.
Project description:LAGLIDADG homing endonucleases (LHEs) are a family of highly specific DNA endonucleases capable of recognizing target sequences ≈ 20 bp in length, thus drawing intense interest for their potential academic, biotechnological and clinical applications. Methods for rational design of LHEs to cleave desired target sites are presently limited by a small number of high-quality native LHEs to serve as scaffolds for protein engineering-many are unsatisfactory for gene targeting applications. One strategy to address such limitations is to identify close homologs of existing LHEs possessing superior biophysical or catalytic properties. To test this concept, we searched public sequence databases to identify putative LHE open reading frames homologous to the LHE I-AniI and used a DNA binding and cleavage assay using yeast surface display to rapidly survey a subset of the predicted proteins. These proteins exhibited a range of capacities for surface expression and also displayed locally altered binding and cleavage specificities with a range of in vivo cleavage activities. Of these enzymes, I-HjeMI demonstrated the greatest activity in vivo and was readily crystallizable, allowing a comparative structural analysis. Taken together, our results suggest that even highly homologous LHEs offer a readily accessible resource of related scaffolds that display diverse biochemical properties for biotechnological applications.