Activating mutations in quorum-sensing regulator Rgg2 and its conformational flexibility in the absence of an intermolecular disulfide bond.
ABSTRACT: Rap/Rgg/NprR/PlcR/PrgX (RRNPP) quorum-sensing systems use extracellular peptide pheromones that are detected by cytoplasmic receptors to regulate gene expression in firmicute bacteria. Rgg-type receptors are allosterically regulated through direct pheromone binding to control transcriptional activity; however, the receptor activation mechanism remains poorly understood. Previous work has identified a disulfide bond between Cys-45 residues within the homodimer interface of Rgg2 from Streptococcus dysgalactiae (Rgg2Sd). Here, we compared two Rgg2Sd(C45S) X-ray crystal structures with that of wild-type Rgg2Sd and found that in the absence of the intermolecular disulfide, the Rgg2Sd dimer interface is destabilized and Rgg2Sd can adopt multiple conformations. One conformation closely resembled the "disulfide-locked" Rgg2Sd secondary and tertiary structures, but another displayed more extensive rigid-body shifts as well as dramatic secondary structure changes. In parallel experiments, a genetic screen was used to identify mutations in rgg2 of Streptococcus pyogenes (rgg2Sp ) that conferred pheromone-independent transcriptional activation of an Rgg2-stimulated promoter. Eight mutations yielding constitutive Rgg2 activity, designated Rgg2Sp*, were identified, and five of them clustered in or near an Rgg2 region that underwent conformational changes in one of the Rgg2Sd(C45S) crystal structures. The Rgg2Sp* mutations increased Rgg2Sp sensitivity to pheromone and pheromone variants while displaying decreased sensitivity to the Rgg2 antagonist cyclosporine A. We propose that Rgg2Sp* mutations invoke shifts in free-energy bias to favor the active state of the protein. Finally, we present evidence for an electrostatic interaction between an N-terminal Asp of the pheromone and Arg-153 within the proposed pheromone-binding pocket of Rgg2Sp.
Project description:In streptococci, intracellular quorum sensing pathways are based on quorum-sensing systems that are responsible for peptide secretion, maturation, and reimport. These peptides then interact with Rgg or ComR transcriptional regulators in the Rap, Rgg, NprR, PlcR, and PrgX (RRNPP) family, whose members are found in Gram-positive bacteria. Short hydrophobic peptides (SHP) interact with Rgg whereas ComS peptides interact with ComR regulators. To date, in Streptococcus thermophilus, peptide secretion, maturation, and extracellular fate have received little attention, even though this species has several (at least five) genes encoding Rgg regulators and one encoding a ComR regulator. We studied pheromone export in this species, focusing our attention on PptAB, which is an exporter of signaling peptides previously identified in Enterococcus faecalis, pathogenic streptococci and Staphylococcus aureus. In the S. thermophilus strain LMD-9, we showed that PptAB controlled three regulation systems, two SHP/Rgg systems (SHP/Rgg1358 and SHP/Rgg1299), and the ComS/ComR system, while using transcriptional fusions and that PptAB helped to produce and export at least three different mature SHPs (SHP1358, SHP1299, and SHP279) peptides while using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). Using a deep sequencing approach (RNAseq), we showed that the exporter PptAB, the membrane protease Eep, and the oligopeptide importer Ami controlled the transcription of the genes that were located downstream from the five non-truncated rgg genes as well as few distal genes. This led us to propose that the five non-truncated shp/rgg loci were functional. Only three shp genes were expressed in our experimental condition. Thus, this transcriptome analysis also highlighted the complex interconnected network that exists between SHP/Rgg systems, where a few homologous signaling peptides likely interact with different regulators.
Project description:In bacterial populations, quorum sensing (QS) systems participate in the regulation of specialization processes and regulate collective behaviors that mediate interactions and allow survival of the species. In Gram-positive bacteria, QS systems of the RRNPP family (Rgg, Rap, NprR, PlcR, and PrgX) consist of intracellular receptors and their cognate signaling peptides. Two of these receptors, Rap and NprR, have regained attention in Bacillus subtilis and the Bacillus cereus group. Some Rap proteins, such as RapH and Rap60, are multifunctional and/or redundant in function, linking the specialization processes of sporulation and competence, as well as global expression changes in the transition phase in B. subtilis NprR, an evolutionary intermediate between Rap and RRNPP transcriptional activators, is a bifunctional regulator that modulates sporulation initiation and activates nutrient scavenging genes. In this review, we discuss how these receptors switch between functions and connect distinct signaling pathways. Based on structural evidence, we propose that RapH and Rap60 should be considered moonlighting proteins. Additionally, we analyze an evolutionary and ecological perspective to understand the multifunctionality and functional redundancy of these regulators in both Bacillus spp. and non-Bacillus Firmicutes Understanding the mechanistic, structural, ecological, and evolutionary basis for the multifunctionality and redundancy of these QS systems is a key step for achieving the development of innovative technologies for health and agriculture.
Project description:Gram-positive bacteria employ an array of secreted peptides to control population-level behaviors in response to environmental cues. We review mechanistic and functional features of secreted peptides produced by the human pathogen Streptococcus pneumoniae. We discuss sequence features, mechanisms of transport, and receptors for 3 major categories of small peptides: the double-glycine peptides, the Rap, Rgg, NprR, PlcR, and PrgX (RRNPP)-binding peptides, and the lanthionine-containing peptides. We highlight the impact of factors that contribute to carriage and pathogenesis, specifically genetic diversity, microbial competition, biofilm development, and environmental adaptation. A recent expansion in pneumococcal peptide studies reveals a complex network of interacting signaling systems where multiple peptides are integrated into the same signaling pathway, allowing multiple points of entry into the pathway and extending information content in new directions. In addition, since peptides are present in the extracellular milieu, there are opportunities for crosstalk, quorum sensing (QS), as well as intra- and interstrain and species interactions. Knowledge on the manner that population-level behaviors contribute to disease provides an avenue for the design and development of anti-infective strategies.
Project description:Streptococcus pyogenes (Group A Streptococcus, GAS) is an important human commensal that occasionally causes localized infections and less frequently causes severe invasive disease with high mortality rates. How GAS regulates expression of factors used to colonize the host and avoid immune responses remains poorly understood. Intercellular communication is an important means by which bacteria coordinate gene expression to defend against host assaults and competing bacteria, yet no conserved cell-to-cell signaling system has been elucidated in GAS. Encoded within the GAS genome are four rgg-like genes, two of which (rgg2 and rgg3) have no previously described function. We tested the hypothesis that rgg2 or rgg3 rely on extracellular peptides to control target-gene regulation. We found that Rgg2 and Rgg3 together tightly regulate two linked genes encoding new peptide pheromones. Rgg2 activates transcription of and is required for full induction of the pheromone genes, while Rgg3 plays an antagonistic role and represses pheromone expression. The active pheromone signals, termed SHP2 and SHP3, are short and hydrophobic (DI[I/L]IIVGG), and, though highly similar in sequence, their ability to disrupt Rgg3-DNA complexes were observed to be different, indicating that specificity and differential activation of promoters are characteristics of the Rgg2/3 regulatory circuit. SHP-pheromone signaling requires an intact oligopeptide permease (opp) and a metalloprotease (eep), supporting the model that pro-peptides are secreted, processed to the mature form, and subsequently imported to the cytoplasm to interact directly with the Rgg receptors. At least one consequence of pheromone stimulation of the Rgg2/3 pathway is increased biogenesis of biofilms, which counteracts negative regulation of biofilms by RopB (Rgg1). These data provide the first demonstration that Rgg-dependent quorum sensing functions in GAS and substantiate the role that Rggs play as peptide receptors across the Firmicute phylum.
Project description:Peptide pheromone cell-cell signaling (quorum sensing) regulates the expression of diverse developmental phenotypes (including virulence) in Firmicutes, which includes common human pathogens, e.g., Streptococcus pyogenes and Streptococcus pneumoniae. Cytoplasmic transcription factors known as "Rgg proteins" are peptide pheromone receptors ubiquitous in Firmicutes. Here we present X-ray crystal structures of a Streptococcus Rgg protein alone and in complex with a tight-binding signaling antagonist, the cyclic undecapeptide cyclosporin A. To our knowledge, these represent the first Rgg protein X-ray crystal structures. Based on the results of extensive structure-function analysis, we reveal the peptide pheromone-binding site and the mechanism by which cyclosporin A inhibits activation of the peptide pheromone receptor. Guided by the Rgg-cyclosporin A complex structure, we predicted that the nonimmunosuppressive cyclosporin A analog valspodar would inhibit Rgg activation. Indeed, we found that, like cyclosporin A, valspodar inhibits peptide pheromone activation of conserved Rgg proteins in medically relevant Streptococcus species. Finally, the crystal structures presented here revealed that the Rgg protein DNA-binding domains are covalently linked across their dimerization interface by a disulfide bond formed by a highly conserved cysteine. The DNA-binding domain dimerization interface observed in our structures is essentially identical to the interfaces previously described for other members of the XRE DNA-binding domain family, but the presence of an intermolecular disulfide bond buried in this interface appears to be unique. We hypothesize that this disulfide bond may, under the right conditions, affect Rgg monomer-dimer equilibrium, stabilize Rgg conformation, or serve as a redox-sensitive switch.
Project description:In Gram-positive bacteria, cell-to-cell communication mainly relies on extracellular signaling peptides, which elicit a response either indirectly, by triggering a two-component phosphorelay, or directly, by binding to cytoplasmic effectors. The latter comprise the RNPP family (Rgg and original regulators Rap, NprR, PrgX and PlcR), whose members regulate important bacterial processes such as sporulation, conjugation, and virulence. RNPP proteins are increasingly considered as interesting targets for the development of new antibacterial agents. These proteins are characterized by a TPR-type peptide-binding domain, and except for Rap proteins, also contain an N-terminal HTH-type DNA-binding domain and display a transcriptional activity. Here, we elucidate the structure-function relationship of the transcription factor ComR, a new member of the RNPP family, which positively controls competence for natural DNA transformation in streptococci. ComR is directly activated by the binding of its associated pheromone XIP, the mature form of the comX/sigX-inducing-peptide ComS. The crystal structure analysis of ComR from Streptococcus thermophilus combined with a mutational analysis and in vivo assays allows us to propose an original molecular mechanism of the ComR regulation mode. XIP-binding induces release of the sequestered HTH domain and ComR dimerization to allow DNA binding. Importantly, we bring evidence that this activation mechanism is conserved and specific to ComR orthologues, demonstrating that ComR is not an Rgg protein as initially proposed, but instead constitutes a new member of the RNPP family. In addition, identification of XIP and ComR residues important for competence activation constitutes a crucial step towards the design of antagonistic strategies to control gene exchanges among streptococci.
Project description:Streptococcus zooepidemicus is an important opportunistic pathogen of several species including humans. This organism is also well-known as the main producing strain in industrial production of hyaluronic acid (HA), which is the component of its capsule polysaccharide. How its virulence and capsule polysaccharide production is regulated remains poorly understood. Intercellular chemical signaling among bacteria provides communities of microbes the opportunity to coordinate gene expression to facilitate group behavior, such as pathogenicity, capsule polysaccharide production, etc. Yet no conserved cell-to-cell signaling system has been elucidated in S. zooepidemicus. Encoded within the genome of S. zooepidemicus is one Rgg regulator encoding gene (rgg) with low similarity to both rgg2 and rgg3 from Streptococcus pyogenes. A small ORF (named as shp) encoding a novel short hydrophobic peptide (SHP) was found in the vicinity of rgg. We found that the active form of pheromone is short and hydrophobic (LLLLKLA), corresponding to the C terminal 7 amino acids of the pre-peptide Shp, which shows divergent sequence to all peptide pheromones reported in streptococci. In response to active SHP, Rgg functions as a transcriptional activator to induce the expression of shp, forming a positive feedback circuit. Bacteria social behaviors, such as capsule polysaccharide production and biofilm formation, were significantly affected when the rgg-shp pathway was inactivated. These data provide the first demonstration that Rgg/Shp signaling pathway comprises an active quorum sensing system in S. zooepidemicus.
Project description:Bacteria use diffusible chemical messengers, termed pheromones, to coordinate gene expression and behavior among cells in a community by a process known as quorum sensing. Pheromones of many gram-positive bacteria, such as Bacillus and Streptococcus, are small, linear peptides secreted from cells and subsequently detected by sensory receptors such as those belonging to the large family of RRNPP proteins. These proteins are cytoplasmic pheromone receptors sharing a structurally similar pheromone-binding domain that functions allosterically to regulate receptor activity. X-ray crystal structures of prototypical RRNPP members have provided atomic-level insights into their mechanism and regulation by pheromones. This review provides an overview of RRNPP prototype signaling; describes the structure-function of this protein family, which is spread widely among gram-positive bacteria; and suggests approaches to target RRNPP systems in order to manipulate beneficial and harmful bacterial behaviors.
Project description:Recent studies have established the fact that multiple members of the Rgg family of transcriptional regulators serve as key components of quorum sensing (QS) pathways that utilize peptides as intercellular signaling molecules. We previously described a novel QS system in Streptococcus pyogenes which utilizes two Rgg-family regulators (Rgg2 and Rgg3) that respond to neighboring signaling peptides (SHP2 and SHP3) to control gene expression and biofilm formation. We have shown that Rgg2 is a transcriptional activator of target genes, whereas Rgg3 represses expression of these genes, and that SHPs function to activate the QS system. The mechanisms by which Rgg proteins regulate both QS-dependent and QS-independent processes remain poorly defined; thus, we sought to further elucidate how Rgg2 and Rgg3 mediate gene regulation. Here we provide evidence that S. pyogenes employs a unique mechanism of direct competition between the antagonistic, peptide-responsive proteins Rgg2 and Rgg3 for binding at target promoters. The highly conserved, shared binding sites for Rgg2 and Rgg3 are located proximal to the -35 nucleotide in the target promoters, and the direct competition between the two regulators results in concentration-dependent, exclusive occupation of the target promoters that can be skewed in favor of Rgg2 in vitro by the presence of SHP. These results suggest that exclusionary binding of target promoters by Rgg3 may prevent Rgg2 binding under SHP-limiting conditions, thereby preventing premature induction of the quorum sensing circuit.Rgg-family transcriptional regulators are widespread among low-G+C Gram-positive bacteria and in many cases contribute to bacterial physiology and virulence. Only recently was it discovered that several Rgg proteins function in cell-to-cell communication (quorum sensing [QS]) via direct interaction with signaling peptides. The mechanism(s) by which Rgg proteins mediate regulation is poorly understood, and further insight into Rgg function is anticipated to be of great importance for the understanding of both regulatory-network architecture and intercellular communication in Rgg-containing species. The results of this study on the Rgg2/3 QS circuit of S. pyogenes demonstrate that DNA binding of target promoters by the activator Rgg2 is directly inhibited by competitive binding by the repressor Rgg3, thereby preventing transcriptional activation of the target genes and premature induction of the QS circuit. This is a unique regulatory mechanism among Rgg proteins and other peptide-responsive QS regulators.
Project description:The human-restricted pathogen Streptococcus pyogenes (Group A Streptococcus, GAS) is responsible for wide-ranging pathologies at numerous sites in the body but has the proclivity to proliferate in individuals asymptomatically. The ability to survive in diverse tissues is undoubtedly benefited by sensory pathways that recognize environmental cues corresponding to stress and nutrient availability and thereby trigger adaptive responses. We investigated the impact that environmental signals contribute to cell-to-cell chemical communication [quorum sensing (QS)] by monitoring activity of the Rgg2/Rgg3 and SHP-pheromone system in GAS. We identified metal limitation and the alternate carbon source mannose as two environmental indicators likely to be encountered by GAS in the host that significantly induced the Rgg-SHP system. Disruption of the metal regulator MtsR partially accounted for the response to metal depletion, whereas ptsABCD was primarily responsible for QS induction due to mannose, but each sensory system induced Rgg-SHP signaling apparently by different mechanisms. Significantly, we found that induction of QS, regardless of the GAS serotype tested, led to enhanced resistance to the antimicrobial agent lysozyme. These results indicate the benefits for GAS to integrate environmental signals with intercellular communication pathways in protection from host defenses.