Protein-mediated looping of DNA under tension requires supercoiling.
ABSTRACT: Protein-mediated DNA looping is ubiquitous in chromatin organization and gene regulation, but to what extent supercoiling or nucleoid associated proteins promote looping is poorly understood. Using the lac repressor (LacI), a paradigmatic loop-mediating protein, we measured LacI-induced looping as a function of either supercoiling or the concentration of the HU protein, an abundant nucleoid protein in Escherichia coli. Negative supercoiling to physiological levels with magnetic tweezers easily drove the looping probability from 0 to 100% in single DNA molecules under slight tension that likely exists in vivo. In contrast, even saturating (micromolar) concentrations of HU could not raise the looping probability above 30% in similarly stretched DNA or 80% in DNA without tension. Negative supercoiling is required to induce significant looping of DNA under any appreciable tension.
Project description:The overall topology of DNA profoundly influences the regulation of transcription and is determined by DNA flexibility as well as the binding of proteins that induce DNA torsion, distortion, and/or looping. Gal repressor (GalR) is thought to repress transcription from the two promoters of the gal operon of Escherichia coli by forming a DNA loop of approximately 40 nm of DNA that encompasses the promoters. Associated evidence of a topological regulatory mechanism of the transcription repression is the requirement for a supercoiled DNA template and the histone-like heat unstable nucleoid protein (HU). By using single-molecule manipulations to generate and finely tune tension in DNA molecules, we directly detected GalR/HU-mediated DNA looping and characterized its kinetics, thermodynamics, and supercoiling dependence. The factors required for gal DNA looping in single-molecule experiments (HU, GalR and DNA supercoiling) correspond exactly to those necessary for gal repression observed both in vitro and in vivo. Our single-molecule experiments revealed that negatively supercoiled DNA, under slight tension, denatured to facilitate GalR/HU-mediated DNA loop formation. Such topological intermediates may operate similarly in other multiprotein complexes of transcription, replication, and recombination.
Project description:Topoisomerases, polymerases, and the chirality introduced by the binding of histones or nucleoid-associated proteins affect DNA supercoiling in vivo. However, supercoiling is not just a by-product of DNA metabolism. Supercoiling is an indicator of cell health, it modifies the accessibility of chromatin, and coordinates the transcription of genes. This suggests that regulatory, protein-mediated loops in DNA may sense supercoiling of the genome in which they are embedded. The ? repressor (CI) maintains the quiescent (lysogenic) transcriptome of bacteriophage ? in infected Escherichia coli. CI-mediated looping prevents overexpression of the repressor protein to preserve sensitivity to conditions that trigger virulence (lysis). Experiments were performed to assess how well the CI-mediated DNA loop traps superhelicity and determine whether supercoiling enhances CI-mediated DNA looping. CI oligomers partitioned plasmids into topological domains and prevented the passage of supercoiling between them. Furthermore, in single DNA molecules stretched and twisted with magnetic tweezers, levels of superhelical density confined in CI-mediated DNA loops ranged from -15% or +11%. Finally, in DNA under tensions that may occur in vivo, supercoiling lowered the free energy of loop formation and was essential for DNA looping. Supercoiling-enhanced looping can influence the maintenance of lysogeny in the ? repressor system; it can encode sensitivity to the energy level of the cell and creates independent topological domains of distinct superhelical density.
Project description:The intrinsic stiffness of DNA limits its ability to be bent and twisted over short lengths, but such deformations are required for gene regulation. One classic paradigm is DNA looping in the regulation of the Escherichia coli lac operon. Lac repressor protein binds simultaneously to two operator sequences flanking the lac promoter. Analysis of the length dependence of looping-dependent repression of the lac operon provides insight into DNA deformation energetics within cells. The apparent flexibility of DNA is greater in vivo than in vitro, possibly because of host proteins that bind DNA and induce sites of flexure. Here we test DNA looping in bacterial strains lacking the nucleoid proteins HU, IHF or H-NS. We confirm that deletion of HU inhibits looping and that quantitative modeling suggests residual looping in the induced operon. Deletion of IHF has little effect. Remarkably, DNA looping is strongly enhanced in the absence of H-NS, and an explanatory model is proposed. Chloroquine titration, psoralen crosslinking and supercoiling-sensitive reporter assays show that the effects of nucleoid proteins on looping are not correlated with their effects on either total or unrestrained supercoiling. These results suggest that host nucleoid proteins can directly facilitate or inhibit DNA looping in bacteria.
Project description:Gene expression regulation is a fundamental biological process which deploys specific sets of genomic information depending on physiological or environmental conditions. Several transcription factors (including lac repressor, LacI) are present in the cell at very low copy number and increase their local concentration by binding to multiple sites on DNA and looping the intervening sequence. In this work, we employ single-molecule manipulation to experimentally address the role of DNA supercoiling in the dynamics and stability of LacI-mediated DNA looping. We performed measurements over a range of degrees of supercoiling between -0.026 and +0.026, in the absence of axial stretching forces. A supercoiling-dependent modulation of the lifetimes of both the looped and unlooped states was observed. Our experiments also provide evidence for multiple structural conformations of the LacI-DNA complex, depending on torsional constraints. The supercoiling-dependent modulation demonstrated here adds an important element to the model of the lac operon. In fact, the complex network of proteins acting on the DNA in a living cell constantly modifies its topological and mechanical properties: our observations demonstrate the possibility of establishing a signaling pathway from factors affecting DNA supercoiling to transcription factors responsible for the regulation of specific sets of genes.
Project description:The histone-like protein HU is a conserved nucleoid-associated protein that is involved in the maintenance of the bacterial chromosome architecture. It is the only known nucleoid-associated protein in Streptococcus pneumoniae, but it has not been studied. The pneumococcal gene encoding this protein, hlp, is shown herein to be essential for cell viability. Its disruption was only possible either when it was duplicated in the chromosome and its expression induced from the P Zn promoter, or when hlp was cloned into a plasmid under the control of the inducible P mal promoter. In vitro assays indicated that pneumococcal HU shows a preference for binding to supercoiled DNA rather than to linear or nicked DNA. In vivo experiments in which the amount of HU was manipulated showed a relationship between the amount of HU and the level of DNA supercoiling. A twofold reduction in the amount of HU triggered a 21% increase in DNA relaxation in untreated cells. However, in cells treated with novobiocin, a drug that relaxes DNA by inhibiting DNA gyrase, a 35% increase in DNA relaxation was observed, instead of the expected 20% in cells with a constitutive HU amount. Conversely, a fourfold HU increase caused only 14% of DNA relaxation in the presence of novobiocin. Taken together, these results support an essential role for HU in the maintenance of DNA supercoiling in S. pneumoniae.
Project description:DNA in bacterial cells primarily exists in a negatively supercoiled state. The extent of supercoiling differs between regions of the chromosome, changes in response to external conditions and regulates gene expression. Here we report the use of trimethylpsoralen intercalation to map the extent of supercoiling across the Escherichia coli chromosome during exponential and stationary growth phases. We find that stationary phase E. coli cells display a gradient of negative supercoiling, with the terminus being more negatively supercoiled than the origin of replication, and that such a gradient is absent in exponentially growing cells. This stationary phase pattern is correlated with the binding of the nucleoid-associated protein HU, and we show that it is lost in an HU deletion strain. We suggest that HU establishes higher supercoiling near the terminus of the chromosome during stationary phase, whereas during exponential growth DNA gyrase and/or transcription equalizes supercoiling across the chromosome.
Project description:We determined the crystal structure of the Escherichia coli nucleoid-associated HUalphabeta protein by x-ray diffraction and observed that the heterodimers form multimers with octameric units in three potential arrangements, which may serve specialized roles in different DNA transaction reactions. It is of special importance that one of the structures forms spiral filaments with left-handed rotations. A negatively superhelical DNA can be modeled to wrap around this left-handed HUalphabeta multimer. Whereas the wild-type HU generated negative DNA supercoiling in vitro, an engineered heterodimer with an altered amino acid residue critical for the formation of the left-handed spiral protein in the crystal was defective in the process, thus providing the structural explanation for the classical property of HU to restrain negative supercoils in DNA.
Project description:Protein-mediated DNA looping, such as that induced by the lactose repressor (LacI) of Escherichia coli, is a well-known gene regulation mechanism. Although researchers have given considerable attention to DNA looping by LacI, many unanswered questions about this mechanism, including the role of protein flexibility, remain. Recent single-molecule observations suggest that the two DNA-binding domains of LacI are capable of splaying open about the tetramerization domain into an extended conformation. We hypothesized that if recent experiments were able to reveal the extended conformation, it is possible that such structures occurred in previous studies as well. In this study, we tested our hypothesis by reevaluating two classic in vitro binding assays using a computational rod model of DNA. The experiments and computations evaluate the looping of both linear DNA and supercoiled DNA minicircles over a broad range of DNA interoperator lengths. The computed energetic minima align well with the experimentally observed interoperator length for optimal loop stability. Of equal importance, the model reveals that the most stable loops for linear DNA occur when LacI adopts the extended conformation. In contrast, for DNA minicircles, optimal stability may arise from either the closed or the extended protein conformation depending on the degree of supercoiling and the interoperator length.
Project description:Molecular mechanisms controlling functional bacterial chromosome (nucleoid) compaction and organization are surprisingly enigmatic but partly depend on conserved, histone-like proteins HU?? and HU?? and their interactions that span the nanoscale and mesoscale from protein-DNA complexes to the bacterial chromosome and nucleoid structure. We determined the crystal structures of these chromosome-associated proteins in complex with native duplex DNA. Distinct DNA binding modes of HU?? and HU?? elucidate fundamental features of bacterial chromosome packing that regulate gene transcription. By combining crystal structures with solution x-ray scattering results, we determined architectures of HU-DNA nucleoproteins in solution under near-physiological conditions. These macromolecular conformations and interactions result in contraction at the cellular level based on in vivo imaging of native unlabeled nucleoid by soft x-ray tomography upon HU? and ectopic HU?38 expression. Structural characterization of charge-altered HU??-DNA complexes reveals an HU molecular switch that is suitable for condensing nucleoid and reprogramming noninvasive Escherichia coli into an invasive form. Collective findings suggest that shifts between networking and cooperative and noncooperative DNA-dependent HU multimerization control DNA compaction and supercoiling independently of cellular topoisomerase activity. By integrating x-ray crystal structures, x-ray scattering, mutational tests, and x-ray imaging that span from protein-DNA complexes to the bacterial chromosome and nucleoid structure, we show that defined dynamic HU interaction networks can promote nucleoid reorganization and transcriptional regulation as efficient general microbial mechanisms to help synchronize genetic responses to cell cycle, changing environments, and pathogenesis.
Project description:DNA-protein loops can be essential for gene regulation. The Escherichia coli lactose (lac) operon is controlled by DNA-protein loops that have been studied for decades. Here we adapt this model to test the hypothesis that negative superhelical strain facilitates the formation of short-range (6-8 DNA turns) repression loops in E. coli. The natural negative superhelicity of E. coli DNA is regulated by the interplay of gyrase and topoisomerase enzymes, adding or removing negative supercoils, respectively. Here, we measured quantitatively DNA looping in three different E. coli strains characterized by different levels of global supercoiling: wild type, gyrase mutant (gyrB226), and topoisomerase mutant (?topA10). DNA looping in each strain was measured by assaying repression of the endogenous lac operon, and repression of ten reporter constructs with DNA loop sizes between 70-85 base pairs. Our data are most simply interpreted as supporting the hypothesis that negative supercoiling facilitates gene repression by small DNA-protein loops in living bacteria.