Antitoxin MqsA represses curli formation through the master biofilm regulator CsgD.
ABSTRACT: MqsA, the antitoxin of the MqsR/MqsA toxin/antitoxin (TA) system, is a global regulator that reduces expression of several stress response genes (e.g., mqsRA, cspD, and rpoS) by binding to the promoter palindromic motif [5'-AACCT (N)? AGGTT-3']. We identified a similar mqsRA-like palindrome [5'-AACCT TA AGGTT-3'] 78?bp upstream of the transcription initiation site in the csgD promoter (p-csgD). CsgD is a master regulator for biofilm formation via its control of curli and cellulose production. We show here that MqsA binds to this palindrome in p-csgD to repress csgD transcription. As expected, p-csgD repression by MqsA resulted in reduced transcription from CsgD-regulated curli genes csgA and csgB (encoding the major and minor curlin subunits, respectively). Curli production was reduced in colonies and in planktonic cells upon MqsA production. Hence, MqsA directly represses p-csgD, and thereby influences curli formation. This demonstrates that TA systems can impact overall cell physiology by fine-tuning cellular stress responses.
Project description:Toxin-antitoxin (TA) systems are broadly distributed modules whose biological roles remain mostly unknown. The mqsRA system is a noncanonical TA system in which the toxin and antitoxins genes are organized in operon but with the particularity that the toxin gene precedes that of the antitoxin. This system was shown to regulate global processes such as resistance to bile salts, motility, and biofilm formation. In addition, the MqsA antitoxin was shown to be a master regulator that represses the transcription of the csgD, cspD, and rpoS global regulator genes, thereby displaying a pleiotropic regulatory role. Here, we identified two promoters located in the toxin sequence driving the constitutive expression of mqsA, allowing thereby excess production of the MqsA antitoxin compared to the MqsR toxin. Our results show that both antitoxin-specific and operon promoters are not regulated by stresses such as amino acid starvation, oxidative shock, or bile salts. Moreover, we show that the MqsA antitoxin is not a global regulator as suggested, since the expression of csgD, cspD and rpoS is similar in wild-type and ?mqsRA mutant strains. Moreover, these two strains behave similarly in terms of biofilm formation and sensitivity to oxidative stress or bile salts.IMPORTANCE There is growing controversy regarding the role of chromosomal toxin-antitoxin systems in bacterial physiology. mqsRA is a peculiar toxin-antitoxin system, as the gene encoding the toxin precedes that of the antitoxin. This system was previously shown to play a role in stress response and biofilm formation. In this work, we identified two promoters specifically driving the constitutive expression of the antitoxin, thereby decoupling the expression of antitoxin from the toxin. We also showed that mqsRA contributes neither to the regulation of biofilm formation nor to the sensitivity to oxidative stress and bile salts. Finally, we were unable to confirm that the MqsA antitoxin is a global regulator. Altogether, our data are ruling out the involvement of the mqsRA system in Escherichia coli regulatory networks.
Project description:Bacterial biofilms are complex communities of cells containing an increased prevalence of dormant cells known as persisters, which are characterized by an up-regulation of genes known as toxin-antitoxin (TA) modules. The association of toxins with their cognate antitoxins neutralizes toxin activity, allowing for normal cell growth. Additionally, protein antitoxins bind their own promoters and repress transcription, whereas the toxins serve as co-repressors. Recently, TA pairs have been shown to regulate their own transcription through a phenomenon known as conditional cooperativity, where the TA complexes bind operator DNA and repress transcription only when present in the proper stoichiometric amounts. The most differentially up-regulated gene in persister cells is mqsR, a gene that, with the antitoxin mqsA, constitutes a TA module. Here, we reveal that, unlike other TA systems, MqsR is not a transcription co-repressor but instead functions to destabilize the MqsA-DNA complex. We further show that DNA binding is not regulated by conditional cooperativity. Finally, using biophysical studies, we show that complex formation between MqsR and MqsA results in an exceptionally stable interaction, resulting in a subnanomolar dissociation constant that is similar to that observed between MqsA and DNA. In combination with crystallographic studies, this work reveals that MqsA binding to DNA and MqsR is mutually exclusive. To our knowledge, this is the first TA system in which the toxin does not function as a transcriptional co-repressor, but instead functions to destabilize the antitoxin-operator complex under all conditions, and thus defines another unique feature of the mqsRA TA module.
Project description:Previously we identified that the Escherichia coli protein MqsR (YgiU) functions as a toxin and that it is involved in the regulation of motility by quorum sensing signal autoinducer-2 (AI-2). Furthermore, MqsR is directly associated with biofilm development and is linked to the development of persister cells. Here we show that MqsR and MqsA (YgiT) are a toxin/antitoxin (TA) pair, which, in significant difference to other TA pairs, regulates additional loci besides its own. We have recently identified that MqsR functions as an RNase. However, using three sets of whole-transcriptome studies and two nickel-enrichment DNA binding microarrays coupled with cell survival studies in which MqsR was overproduced in isogenic mutants, we identified eight genes (cspD, clpX, clpP, lon, yfjZ, relB, relE and hokA) that are involved in a mode of MqsR toxicity in addition to its RNase activity. Quantitative real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) showed that (i) the MqsR/MqsA complex (and MqsA alone) represses the toxin gene cspD, (ii) MqsR overproduction induces cspD, (iii) stress induces cspD, and (iv) stress fails to induce cspD when MqsR/MqsA are overproduced or when mqsRA is deleted. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays show that the MqsA/MqsR complex binds the promoter of cspD. In addition, proteases Lon and ClpXP are necessary for MqsR toxicity. Together, these results indicate the MqsR/MqsA complex represses cspD which may be derepressed by titrating MqsA with MqsR or by degrading MqsA via stress conditions through proteases Lon and ClpXP. Hence, we demonstrate that the MqsR/MqsA TA system controls cell physiology via its own toxicity as well as through its regulation of another toxin, CspD.
Project description:Bacterial cultures, especially biofilms, produce a small number of persister cells, a genetically identical subpopulation of wild type cells that are metabolically dormant, exhibit multidrug tolerance, and are highly enriched in bacterial toxins. The gene most highly up-regulated in Escherichia coli persisters is mqsR, a ribonuclease toxin that, along with mqsA, forms a novel toxin·antitoxin (TA) system. Like all known TA systems, both the MqsR·MqsA complex and MqsA alone regulate their own transcription. Despite the importance of TA systems in persistence and biofilms, very little is known about how TA modules, and antitoxins in particular, bind and recognize DNA at a molecular level. Here, we report the crystal structure of MqsA bound to a 26-bp fragment from the mqsRA promoter. We show that MqsA binds DNA predominantly via its C-terminal helix-turn-helix domain, with direct binding of recognition helix residues Asn(97) and Arg(101) to the DNA major groove. Unexpectedly, the structure also revealed that the MqsA N-terminal domain interacts with the DNA phosphate backbone. This results in a more than 105° rotation of the N-terminal domains between the free and complexed states, an unprecedented rearrangement for an antitoxin. The structure also shows that MqsA bends the DNA by more than 55° in order to achieve symmetrical binding. Finally, using a combination of biochemical and NMR studies, we show that the DNA sequence specificity of MqsA is mediated by direct readout.
Project description:Bacterial toxin/antitoxin (TA) systems have received increasing attention due to their prevalence, diverse structures, and important physiological functions. In this study, we identified and characterized a type II TA system in a soil bacterium Pseudomonas putida KT2440. This TA system belongs to the MqsR/MqsA family. We found that PP_4205 (MqsR) greatly inhibits cell growth in P. putida KT2440 and Escherichia coli, the antitoxin PP_4204 (MqsA) neutralizes the toxicity of the toxin MqsR, and the two genes encoding them are co-transcribed. MqsR and MqsA interact with each other directly in vivo and MqsA is a negative regulator of the TA operon through binding to the promoter. Consistent with the MqsR/MqsA pair in E. coli, the binding of the toxin MqsR to MqsA inhibits the DNA binding ability of MqsA in P. putida KT2440. Disruption of the mqsA gene which induces mqsR expression increases persister cell formation 53-fold, while overexpressing mqsA which represses mqsR expression reduces persister cell formation 220-fold, suggesting an important role of MqsR in persistence in P. putida KT2440. Furthermore, both MqsR and MqsA promote biofilm formation. As a DNA binding protein, MqsA can also negatively regulate an ECF sigma factor AlgU and a universal stress protein PP_3288. Thus, we revealed an important regulatory role of MqsR/MqsA in persistence and biofilm formation in P. putida KT2440.
Project description:Although molecular mechanisms promoting adherence of enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) O157:H7 on epithelial cells are well characterized, regulatory mechanisms controlling biofilm formation are not fully understood. In this study, we demonstrate that biofilm formation in EHEC O157:H7 strain 86-24 is highly repressed compared to that in an isogenic hha mutant. The hha mutant produced large quantities of biofilm compared to the wild-type strain at 30°C and 37°C. Complementation of the hha mutant reduced the level of biofilm formation to that of the wild-type strain, indicating that Hha is a negative regulator of biofilm production. While swimming motility and expression of the flagellar gene fliC were significantly reduced, the expression of csgA (encoding curlin of curli fimbriae) and the ability to bind Congo red were significantly enhanced. The expression of both fliC and csgA and the phenotypes of motility and curli production affected by these two genes, respectively, were restored to wild-type levels in the complemented hha mutant. The csgA deletion abolished biofilm formation in the hha mutant and wild-type strain, and csgA complementation restored biofilm formation to these strains, indicating the importance of csgA and curli in biofilm formation. The regulatory effects of Hha on flagellar and curli gene expression appear to occur via the induction and repression of FlhDC and CsgD, as demonstrated by reduced flhD and increased csgD transcription in the hha mutant, respectively. In gel shift assays Hha interacted with flhDC and csgD promoters. In conclusion, Hha regulates biofilm formation in EHEC O157:H7 by differential regulation of FlhDC and CsgD, the global regulators of motility and curli production, respectively.
Project description:One mechanism by which bacteria survive environmental stress is through the formation of bacterial persisters, a sub-population of genetically identical quiescent cells that exhibit multidrug tolerance and are highly enriched in bacterial toxins. Recently, the Escherichia coli gene mqsR (b3022) was identified as the gene most highly upregulated in persisters. Here, we report multiple individual and complex three-dimensional structures of MqsR and its antitoxin MqsA (B3021), which reveal that MqsR:MqsA form a novel toxin:antitoxin (TA) pair. MqsR adopts an alpha/beta fold that is homologous with the RelE/YoeB family of bacterial ribonuclease toxins. MqsA is an elongated dimer that neutralizes MqsR toxicity. As expected for a TA pair, MqsA binds its own promoter. Unexpectedly, it also binds the promoters of genes important for E. coli physiology (e.g., mcbR, spy). Unlike canonical antitoxins, MqsA is also structured throughout its entire sequence, binds zinc and coordinates DNA via its C- and not N-terminal domain. These studies reveal that TA systems, especially the antitoxins, are significantly more diverse than previously recognized and provide new insights into the role of toxins in maintaining the persister state.
Project description:Antitoxins are becoming recognized as proteins that regulate more than their own synthesis; for example, we found previously that antitoxin MqsA of the Escherichia coli toxin/antitoxin (TA) pair MqsR/MqsA directly represses the gene encoding the stationary-phase sigma factor RpoS. Here, we investigated the physiological role of antitoxin DinJ of the YafQ/DinJ TA pair and found DinJ also affects the general stress response by decreasing RpoS levels. Corroborating the reduced RpoS levels upon producing DinJ, the RpoS-regulated phenotypes of catalase activity, cell adhesins and cyclic diguanylate decreased while swimming increased. Using a transcriptome search and DNA-binding assays, we determined that the mechanism by which DinJ reduces RpoS is by repressing cspE at the LexA palindrome; cold-shock protein CspE enhances translation of rpoS mRNA. Inactivation of CspE abolishes the ability of DinJ to influence RpoS. Hence, DinJ influences the general stress response indirectly by regulating cspE.
Project description:Although it is well recognized that bacteria respond to environmental stress through global networks, the mechanism by which stress is relayed to the interior of the cell is poorly understood. Here we show that enigmatic toxin-antitoxin systems are vital in mediating the environmental stress response. Specifically, the antitoxin MqsA represses rpoS, which encodes the master regulator of stress. Repression of rpoS by MqsA reduces the concentration of the internal messenger 3,5-cyclic diguanylic acid, leading to increased motility and decreased biofilm formation. Furthermore, the repression of rpoS by MqsA decreases oxidative stress resistance via catalase activity. Upon oxidative stress, MqsA is rapidly degraded by Lon protease, resulting in induction of rpoS. Hence, we show that external stress alters gene regulation controlled by toxin-antitoxin systems, such that the degradation of antitoxins during stress leads to a switch from the planktonic state (high motility) to the biofilm state (low motility).
Project description:Escherichia coli produces proteinaceous surface structures called curli that are involved in adhesion and biofilm formation. CsgD is the transcriptional activator of curli genes. We show here that csgD expression is, in part, controlled post-transcriptionally by two redundant small RNAs (sRNAs), OmrA and OmrB. Their overexpression results in curli deficiency, in accordance with the inhibition of chromosomally encoded, FLAG-tagged CsgD. Downregulation of csgD occurs by a direct antisense interaction within the csgD 5'-UTR, far upstream of the ribosome-binding site (RBS). OmrA/B downregulate plasmid-borne csgD-gfp fusions in vivo, and inhibit CsgD translation in vitro. The RNA chaperone Hfq is required for normal csgD mRNA and OmrA/B levels in the cell, and enhances sRNA-dependent inhibition of csgD translation in vitro. Translational inhibition involves two phylogenetically conserved secondary structure modules that are supported by chemical and enzymatic probing. The 5'-most element is necessary and sufficient for regulation, the one downstream comprises the RBS and affects translational efficiency. OmrA/B are two antisense RNAs that regulate a transcription factor to alter a morphotype and group behaviour.