Non-coding RNAs Potentially Controlling Cell Cycle in the Model Caulobacter crescentus: A Bioinformatic Approach.
ABSTRACT: Caulobacter crescentus represents a remarkable model system to investigate global regulatory programs in bacteria. In particular, several decades of intensive study have revealed that its cell cycle is controlled by a cascade of master regulators, such as DnaA, GcrA, CcrM, and CtrA, that are responsible for the activation of functions required to progress through DNA replication, cell division and morphogenesis of polar structures (flagellum and stalk). In order to accomplish this task, several post-translational (phosphorylation and proteolysis) and transcriptional mechanisms are involved. Surprisingly, the role of non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) in regulating the cell cycle has not been investigated. Here we describe a bioinformatic analysis that revealed that ncRNAs may well play a crucial role regulating cell cycle in C. crescentus. We used available prediction tools to understand which target genes may be regulated by ncRNAs in this bacterium. Furthermore, we predicted whether ncRNAs with a cell cycle regulated expression profile may be directly regulated by DnaA, GcrA, and CtrA, at the onset, during or end of the S-phase/swarmer cell, or if any of them has CcrM methylation sites in the promoter region. Our analysis suggests the existence of a potentially very important network of ncRNAs regulated by or regulating well-known cell cycle genes in C. crescentus. Our hypothesis is that ncRNAs are intimately connected to the known regulatory network, playing a crucial modulatory role in cell cycle progression.
Project description:The Caulobacter cell cycle is driven by a cascade of transient regulators, starting with the expression of DnaA in G(1) and ending with the expression of the essential CcrM DNA methyltransferase at the completion of DNA replication. The timing of DnaA accumulation was found to be regulated by the methylation state of the dnaA promoter, which in turn depends on the chromosomal position of dnaA near the origin of replication and restriction of CcrM synthesis to the end of the cell cycle. The dnaA gene is preferentially transcribed from a fully methylated promoter. DnaA initiates DNA replication and activates the transcription of the next cell-cycle regulator, GcrA. With the passage of the replication fork, the dnaA promoter becomes hemimethylated, and DnaA accumulation drops. GcrA then activates the transcription of the next cell-cycle regulator, CtrA, once the replication fork passes through the ctrA P1 promoter, generating two hemimethylated copies of ctrA. The ctrA gene is preferentially transcribed from a hemimethylated promoter. CtrA then activates the transcription of ccrM, to bring the newly replicated chromosome to the fully methylated state, promoting dnaA transcription and the start of a new cell cycle. We show that the cell-cycle timing of CcrM is critical for Caulobacter fitness. The sequential changes in the chromosomal methylation state serve to couple the progression of DNA replication to cell-cycle events regulated by the master transcriptional regulatory cascade, thus providing a ratchet mechanism for robust cell-cycle control.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>In the bacterium Caulobacter crescentus, CtrA coordinates DNA replication, cell division, and polar morphogenesis and is considered the cell cycle master regulator. CtrA activity varies during cell cycle progression and is modulated by phosphorylation, proteolysis and transcriptional control. In a phosphorylated state, CtrA binds specific DNA sequences, regulates the expression of genes involved in cell cycle progression and silences the origin of replication. Although the circuitry regulating CtrA is known in molecular detail in Caulobacter, its conservation and functionality in the other alpha-proteobacteria are still poorly understood.<h4>Results</h4>Orthologs of Caulobacter factors involved in the regulation of CtrA were systematically scanned in genomes of alpha-proteobacteria. In particular, orthologous genes of the divL-cckA-chpT-ctrA phosphorelay, the divJ-pleC-divK two-component system, the cpdR-rcdA-clpPX proteolysis system, the methyltransferase ccrM and transcriptional regulators dnaA and gcrA were identified in representative genomes of alpha-proteobacteria. CtrA, DnaA and GcrA binding sites and CcrM putative methylation sites were predicted in promoter regions of all these factors and functions controlled by CtrA in all alphas were predicted.<h4>Conclusions</h4>The regulatory cell cycle architecture was identified in all representative alpha-proteobacteria, revealing a high diversification of circuits but also a conservation of logical features. An evolutionary model was proposed where ancient alphas already possessed all modules found in Caulobacter arranged in a variety of connections. Two schemes appeared to evolve: a complex circuit in Caulobacterales and Rhizobiales and a simpler one found in Rhodobacterales.
Project description:The Caulobacter cell cycle includes in an asymmetric cell division that is driven by a core regulatory circuit comprised of 4 transcription factors (DnaA, GcrA, CtrA, and SciP) and a DNA methyltransferase (CcrM). Using a modified global 5M-bM-^@M-^Y RACE protocol we mapped 2,726 transcriptional start sites (TSS) in the 4mb Caulobacter genome and identified 586 cell cycle-regulated TSS. The core cell cycle circuit directly controls about 55% of cell cycle-regulated TSS by integrating multiple regulatory inputs within at least 322 promoters, providing a large number of transcription profiles from a small number of regulatory factors. Here, we identified previously unknown features of the core cell cycle circuit, including antisense TSS within dnaA and ctrA, plus newly identified TSS for ctrA and ccrM. Altogether, we identified 615 antisense TSS plus 241 genes that are transcribed from multiple TSS. The multiple TSS in the same promoter region often exhibit different cell cycle activation timing, These novel features of the global transcript profile add significant insight to the system architecture of the Caulobacter cell cycle regulatory circuit. Global 5' RACE was performed to measure Transcription Start Site activity at time points of the Caulobacter NA1000 cell cycle
Project description:The Caulobacter cell cycle includes in an asymmetric cell division that is driven by a core regulatory circuit comprised of 4 transcription factors (DnaA, GcrA, CtrA, and SciP) and a DNA methyltransferase (CcrM). Using a modified global 5M-bM-^@M-^Y RACE protocol we mapped 2,726 transcriptional start sites (TSS) in the 4mb Caulobacter genome and identified 586 cell cycle-regulated TSS. The core cell cycle circuit directly controls about 55% of cell cycle-regulated TSS by integrating multiple regulatory inputs within at least 322 promoters, providing a large number of transcription profiles from a small number of regulatory factors. Here, we identified previously unknown features of the core cell cycle circuit, including antisense TSS within dnaA and ctrA, plus newly identified TSS for ctrA and ccrM. Altogether, we identified 615 antisense TSS plus 241 genes that are transcribed from multiple TSS. The multiple TSS in the same promoter region often exhibit different cell cycle activation timing, These novel features of the global transcript profile add significant insight to the system architecture of the Caulobacter cell cycle regulatory circuit. Global 5' RACE was performed to map Transcription Start Sites in the Caulobacter NA1000 genome
Project description:Cell cycle progression in Caulobacter is driven by the master transcriptional regulators CtrA and GcrA. The cellular levels of CtrA and GcrA are temporally and spatially out-of-phase during the cell cycle, with CtrA repressing gcrA transcription and GcrA activating ctrA transcription. Here, we show that DnaA, a protein required for the initiation of DNA replication, also functions as a transcriptional activator of gcrA, which in turn activates multiple genes, notably those involved in chromosome replication and segregation. The cellular concentration of DnaA is cell cycle-controlled, peaking at the time of replication initiation and gcrA induction. Regulated proteolysis of GcrA contributes to the cell cycle variations in GcrA abundance. We propose that DnaA couples DNA replication initiation with the expression of the two oscillating regulators GcrA and CtrA and that the DnaA/GcrA/CtrA regulatory cascade drives the forward progression of the Caulobacter cell cycle.
Project description:Progression of a cell through the division cycle is tightly controlled at different steps to ensure the integrity of genome replication and partitioning to daughter cells. From published experimental evidence, we propose a molecular mechanism for control of the cell division cycle in Caulobacter crescentus. The mechanism, which is based on the synthesis and degradation of three "master regulator" proteins (CtrA, GcrA, and DnaA), is converted into a quantitative model, in order to study the temporal dynamics of these and other cell cycle proteins. The model accounts for important details of the physiology, biochemistry, and genetics of cell cycle control in stalked C. crescentus cell. It reproduces protein time courses in wild-type cells, mimics correctly the phenotypes of many mutant strains, and predicts the phenotypes of currently uncharacterized mutants. Since many of the proteins involved in regulating the cell cycle of C. crescentus are conserved among many genera of alpha-proteobacteria, the proposed mechanism may be applicable to other species of importance in agriculture and medicine.
Project description:What are the minimal requirements to sustain an asymmetric cell cycle? Here we use mathematical modelling and forward genetics to reduce an asymmetric cell cycle to its simplest, primordial components. In the Alphaproteobacterium Caulobacter crescentus, cell cycle progression is believed to be controlled by a cyclical genetic circuit comprising four essential master regulators. Unexpectedly, our in silico modelling predicted that one of these regulators, GcrA, is in fact dispensable. We confirmed this experimentally, finding that ?gcrA cells are viable, but slow-growing and elongated, with the latter mostly due to an insufficiency of a key cell division protein. Furthermore, suppressor analysis showed that another cell cycle regulator, the methyltransferase CcrM, is similarly dispensable with simultaneous gcrA/ccrM disruption ameliorating the cytokinetic and growth defect of ?gcrA cells. Within the Alphaproteobacteria, gcrA and ccrM are consistently present or absent together, rather than either gene being present alone, suggesting that gcrA/ccrM constitutes an independent, dispensable genetic module. Together our approaches unveil the essential elements of a primordial asymmetric cell cycle that should help illuminate more complex cell cycles.
Project description:Multiple global regulators are involved in coordinating the complex life cycle of Caulobacter crescentus, including GcrA and CcrM which compose a DNA methylation-based regulatory system. These regulators are well conserved across Alphaproteobacteria but the extent to which their regulatory targets are conserved is not known. In this study, the regulatory targets of GcrA and CcrM were analyzed by ChIP-seq, RNA-seq and SMRT-seq technologies in the Alphaproteobacterium Brevundimonas subvibrioides, a close relative of C. crescentus that inhabits the same environments. These regulons were then compared to the C. crescentus regulons. Although the regulators themselves are highly conserved, the genes they regulate are vastly different. There were only nine predicted direct regulatory targets of GcrA common to both organisms, and only two predicted direct regulatory targets of CcrM common to both. The two CcrM regulatory targets were also the only two targets conserved among all four regulons. Even conserved genetic targets may be regulated in different ways. The B. subvibrioides ctrA P1 promoter has multiple methylation sites that were found to contribute to its regulation, while the C. crescentus P1 promoter only has one. When multiple alphaproteobacterial genomes were analyzed bioinformatically for potential GcrA regulatory targets, the regulation of genes involved in DNA replication and cell division was conserved while that of other functions was not, suggesting that GcrA has an ancestral role in regulating these functions, and later acquired other roles. This work suggests that even highly conserved regulatory systems can have greatly divergent targets over short evolutionary distances. Overall design: RNA-seq was performed in WT, gcrA and ccrM mutant of B. subvibrioides. All experiments were carried out in triplicates.
Project description:In ?-proteobacteria, strict regulation of cell cycle progression is necessary for the specific cellular differentiation required for adaptation to diverse environmental niches. The symbiotic lifestyle of Sinorhizobium meliloti requires a drastic cellular differentiation that includes genome amplification. To achieve polyploidy, the S. meliloti cell cycle program must be altered to uncouple DNA replication from cell division. In the ?-proteobacterium Caulobacter crescentus, cell cycle-regulated transcription plays an important role in the control of cell cycle progression but this has not been demonstrated in other ?-proteobacteria. Here we describe a robust method for synchronizing cell growth that enabled global analysis of S. meliloti cell cycle-regulated gene expression. This analysis identified 462 genes with cell cycle-regulated transcripts, including several key cell cycle regulators, and genes involved in motility, attachment, and cell division. Only 28% of the 462 S. meliloti cell cycle-regulated genes were also transcriptionally cell cycle-regulated in C. crescentus. Furthermore, CtrA- and DnaA-binding motif analysis revealed little overlap between the cell cycle-dependent regulons of CtrA and DnaA in S. meliloti and C. crescentus. The predicted S. meliloti cell cycle regulon of CtrA, but not that of DnaA, was strongly conserved in more closely related ?-proteobacteria with similar ecological niches as S. meliloti, suggesting that the CtrA cell cycle regulatory network may control functions of central importance to the specific lifestyles of ?-proteobacteria.
Project description:DnaA is a conserved essential bacterial protein that acts as the initiator of chromosomal replication as well as a master transcriptional regulator in Caulobacter crescentus. Thus, the intracellular levels of active DnaA need to be tightly regulated during the cell cycle. Our previous work suggested that DnaA may be regulated at the level of its activity by the replisome-associated protein HdaA. Here, we describe the construction of a mutant DnaA protein [DnaA(R357A)]. The R357 residue in the AAA+ domain of the C. crescentus DnaA protein is equivalent to the R334 residue of the E. coli DnaA protein, which is required for the Regulatory Inactivation of DnaA (RIDA). We found that the expression of the DnaA(R357A) mutant protein in C. crescentus, but not the expression of the wild-type DnaA protein at similar levels, causes a severe phenotype of over-initiation of chromosomal replication and that it blocks cell division. Thus, the mutant DnaA(R357A) protein is hyper-active to promote the initiation of DNA replication, compared to the wild-type DnaA protein. DnaA(R357A) could not replace DnaA in vivo, indicating that the switch in DnaA activity once chromosomal replication has started may be an essential process in C. crescentus. We propose that the inactivation of DnaA is the main mechanism ensuring that chromosomal replication starts only once per cell cycle. We further observed that the R357A substitution in DnaA does not promote the activity of DnaA as a direct transcriptional activator of four important genes, encoding HdaA, the GcrA master cell cycle regulator, the FtsZ cell division protein and the MipZ spatial regulator of cell division. Thus, the AAA+ domain of DnaA may play a role in temporally regulating the bifunctionality of DnaA by reallocating DnaA molecules from initiating DNA replication to transcribing genes within the unique DnaA regulon of C. crescentus.