Role of Protein Self-Association on DNA Condensation and Nucleoid Stability in a Bacterial Cell Model.
ABSTRACT: Bacterial cells do not have a nuclear membrane that encompasses and isolates the genetic material. In addition, they do not possess histone proteins, which are responsible for the first levels of genome condensation in eukaryotes. Instead, there is a number of more or less specific nucleoid-associated proteins that induce DNA bridging, wrapping and bending. Many of these proteins self-assemble into oligomers. The crowded environment of cells is also believed to contribute to DNA condensation due to excluded volume effects. Ribosomes are protein-RNA complexes found in large concentrations in the cytosol of cells. They are overall negatively charged and some DNA-binding proteins have been reported to also bind to ribosomes. Here the effect of protein self-association on DNA condensation and stability of DNA-protein complexes is explored using Monte Carlo simulations and a simple coarse-grained model. The DNA-binding proteins are described as positively charged dimers with the same linear charge density as the DNA, described using a bead and spring model. The crowding molecules are simply described as hard-spheres with varying charge density. It was found that applying a weak attractive potential between protein dimers leads to their association in the vicinity of the DNA (but not in its absence), which greatly enhances the condensation of the model DNA. The presence of neutral crowding agents does not affect the DNA conformation in the presence or absence of protein dimers. For weakly self-associating proteins, the presence of negatively charged crowding particles induces the dissociation of the DNA-protein complex due to the partition of the proteins between the DNA and the crowders. Protein dimers with stronger association potentials, on the other hand, stabilize the nucleoid, even in the presence of highly charged crowders. The interactions between protein dimers and crowding agents are not completely prevented and a few crowding molecules typically bind to the nucleoid.
Project description:Understanding the influence of macromolecular crowding and nanoparticles on the formation of in-register ?-sheets, the primary structural component of amyloid fibrils, is a first step towards describing in vivo protein aggregation and interactions between synthetic materials and proteins. Using all atom molecular simulations in implicit solvent we illustrate the effects of nanoparticle size, shape, and volume fraction on oligomer formation of an amyloidogenic peptide from the transthyretin protein. Surprisingly, we find that inert spherical crowding particles destabilize in-register ?-sheets formed by dimers while stabilizing ?-sheets comprised of trimers and tetramers. As the radius of the nanoparticle increases crowding effects decrease, implying smaller crowding particles have the largest influence on the earliest amyloid species. We explain these results using a theory based on the depletion effect. Finally, we show that spherocylindrical crowders destabilize the ordered ?-sheet dimer to a greater extent than spherical crowders, which underscores the influence of nanoparticle shape on protein aggregation.
Project description:Background:Cellular environments are highly crowded with biological macromolecules resulting in frequent non-specific interactions. While the effect of such crowding on protein structure and dynamics has been studied extensively, very little is known how cellular crowding affects the conformational sampling of nucleic acids. Results:The effect of protein crowding on the conformational preferences of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) is described from fully atomistic molecular dynamics simulations of systems containing a DNA dodecamer surrounded by protein crowders. From the simulations, it was found that DNA structures prefer to stay in B-like conformations in the presence of the crowders. The preference for B-like conformations results from non-specific interactions of crowder proteins with the DNA sugar-phosphate backbone. Moreover, the simulations suggest that the crowder interactions narrow the conformational sampling to canonical regions of the conformational space. Conclusions:The overall conclusion is that crowding effects may stabilize the canonical features of DNA that are most important for biological function. The results are complementary to a previous study of DNA in reduced dielectric environments where reduced dielectric environments alone led to a conformational shift towards A-DNA. Such a shift was not observed here suggested that the reduced dielectric response of cellular environments is counteracted by non-specific interactions with protein crowders under in vivo conditions.
Project description:The nucleoid-associated protein HU is one of the most abundant proteins in Escherichia coli and has been suggested to play an important role in bacterial nucleoid organization and regulation. Although the regulatory aspects of HU have been firmly established, much less is understood about the role of HU in shaping the bacterial nucleoid. In both functions (local) modulation of DNA architecture seems an essential feature, but information on the mechanical properties of this type of sequence-independent nucleoprotein complex is scarce. In this study we used magnetic tweezers and atomic force microscopy to quantify HU-induced DNA bending and condensation. Both techniques revealed that HU can have two opposing mechanical effects depending on the protein concentration. At concentrations <100 nM, individual HU dimers induce very flexible bends in DNA that are responsible for DNA compaction up to 50%. At higher HU concentrations, a rigid nucleoprotein filament is formed in which HU appears to arrange helically around the DNA without inducing significant condensation.
Project description:Although the spatiotemporal structure of the genome is crucial to its biological function, many basic questions remain unanswered on the morphology and segregation of chromosomes. Here, we experimentally show in Escherichia coli that spatial confinement plays a dominant role in determining both the chromosome size and position. In non-dividing cells with lengths increased to 10 times normal, single chromosomes are observed to expand > 4-fold in size. Chromosomes show pronounced internal dynamics but exhibit a robust positioning where single nucleoids reside robustly at mid-cell, whereas two nucleoids self-organize at 1/4 and 3/4 positions. The cell-size-dependent expansion of the nucleoid is only modestly influenced by deletions of nucleoid-associated proteins, whereas osmotic manipulation experiments reveal a prominent role of molecular crowding. Molecular dynamics simulations with model chromosomes and crowders recapitulate the observed phenomena and highlight the role of entropic effects caused by confinement and molecular crowding in the spatial organization of the chromosome.
Project description:We have studied the influence of protein crowders, either combined or individually, on the GTP-induced FtsZ cooperative assembly, crucial for the formation of the dynamic septal ring and, hence, for bacterial division. It was earlier demonstrated that high concentrations of inert polymers like Ficoll 70, used to mimic the crowded cellular interior, favor the assembly of FtsZ into bundles with slow depolymerization. We have found, by fluorescence anisotropy together with light scattering measurements, that the presence of protein crowders increases the tendency of FtsZ to polymerize at micromolar magnesium concentration, being the effect larger with ovomucoid, a negatively charged protein. Neutral polymers and a positively charged protein also diminished the critical concentration of assembly, the extent of the effect being compatible with that expected according to pure volume exclusion models. FtsZ polymerization was also observed to be strongly promoted by a negatively charged polymer, DNA, and by some unrelated polymers like PEGs at concentrations below the crowding regime. The influence of mixed crowders mimicking the heterogeneity of the intracellular environment on the tendency of FtsZ to assemble was also studied and nonadditive effects were found to prevail. Far from exactly reproducing the bacterial cytoplasm environment, this approach serves as a simplified model illustrating how its intrinsically crowded and heterogeneous nature may modulate FtsZ assembly into a functional Z-ring.
Project description:Macromolecular crowding is recognized as an important factor influencing folding and conformational dynamics of proteins and nucleic acids. Previous views of crowding have focused on the mostly entropic volume exclusion effect of crowding, but recent studies are indicating the importance of enthalpic effects, in particular, changes in electrostatic interactions due to crowding. Here, temperature replica exchange molecular dynamics simulations of trp-cage and melittin in the presence of explicit protein crowders are presented to further examine the effect of protein crowders on peptide dynamics. The simulations involve a three-component multiscale modeling scheme where the peptides are represented at an atomistic level, the crowder proteins at a coarse-grained level, and the surrounding aqueous solvent as implicit solvent. This scheme optimally balances a physically realistic description for the peptide with computational efficiency. The multiscale simulations were compared with simulations of the same peptides in different dielectric environments with dielectric constants ranging from 5 to 80. It is found that the sampling in the presence of the crowders resembles sampling with reduced dielectric constants between 10 and 40. Furthermore, diverse conformational ensembles are generated in the presence of crowders including partially unfolded states for trp-cage. These findings emphasize the importance of enthalpic interactions over volume exclusion effects in describing the effects of cellular crowding.
Project description:The bacterial chromosome is under varying levels of mechanical stress due to a high degree of crowding and dynamic protein-DNA interactions experienced within the nucleoid. DNA tension is difficult to measure in cells and its functional significance remains unclear although in vitro experiments have implicated a range of biomechanical phenomena. Using single-molecule tools, we have uncovered a novel protein-DNA interaction that responds to fluctuations in mechanical tension by condensing DNA. We combined tethered particle motion (TPM) and optical tweezers experiments to probe the effects of tension on DNA in the presence of the Hha/H-NS complex. The nucleoid structuring protein H-NS is a key regulator of DNA condensation and gene expression in enterobacteria and its activity in vivo is affected by the accessory factor Hha. We find that tension, induced by optical tweezers, causes the rapid compaction of DNA in the presence of the Hha/H-NS complex, but not in the presence of H-NS alone. Our results imply that H-NS requires Hha to condense bacterial DNA and that this condensation could be triggered by the level of mechanical tension experienced along different regions of the chromosome.
Project description:A cell's interior is comprised of macromolecules that can occupy up to 40% of its available volume. Such crowded environments can influence the stability of proteins and their rates of reaction. Using discrete molecular dynamics simulations, we investigate how both the size and number of neighboring crowding reagents affect the thermodynamic and folding properties of structurally diverse proteins. We find that crowding induces higher compaction of proteins. We also find that folding becomes less cooperative with the introduction of crowders into the system. The crowders may induce alternative non-native protein conformations, thus creating barriers for protein folding in highly crowded media.
Project description:To examine the effect of crowding on protein aggregation, discontinuous molecular dynamics (DMD) simulations combined with an intermediate resolution protein model, PRIME20, were applied to a peptide/crowder system. The systems contained 192 Aβ(16-22) peptides and crowders of diameters 5, 20, and 40 Å, represented here by simple hard spheres, at crowder volume fractions of 0.00, 0.10, and 0.20. Results show that both crowder volume fraction and crowder diameter have a large impact on fibril and oligomer formation. The addition of crowders to a system of peptides increases the rate of oligomer formation, shifting from a slow ordered formation of oligomers in the absence of crowders, similar to nucleated polymerization, to a fast collapse of peptides and subsequent rearrangement characteristic of nucleated conformational conversion with a high maximum in the number of peptides in oligomers as the total crowder surface area increases. The rate of conversion from oligomers to fibrils also increases with increasing total crowder surface area, giving rise to an increased rate of fibril growth. In all cases, larger volume fractions and smaller crowders provide the greatest aggregation enhancement effects. We also show that the size of the crowders influences the formation of specific oligomer sizes. In our simulations, the 40 Å crowders enhance the number of dimers relative to the numbers of trimers, hexamers, pentamers, and hexamers, while the 5 Å crowders enhance the number of hexamers relative to the numbers of dimers, trimers, tetramers, and pentamers. These results are in qualitative agreement with previous experimental and theoretical work.
Project description:In bacteria, Dps is one of the critical proteins to build up a condensed nucleoid in response to the environmental stresses. In this study, we found that the expression of Dps and the nucleoid condensation was not simply correlated in Escherichia coli, and that Fis, which is an E. coli (gamma-Proteobacteria)-specific nucleoid protein, interfered with the Dps-dependent nucleoid condensation. Atomic force microscopy and Northern blot analyses indicated that the inhibitory effect of Fis was due to the repression of the expression of Topoismerase I (Topo I) and DNA gyrase. In the Deltafis strain, both topA and gyrA/B genes were found to be upregulated. Overexpression of Topo I and DNA gyrase enhanced the nucleoid condensation in the presence of Dps. DNA-topology assays using the cell extract showed that the extracts from the Deltafis and Topo I-/DNA gyrase-overexpressing strains, but not the wild-type extract, shifted the population toward relaxed forms. These results indicate that the topology of DNA is dynamically transmutable and that the topology control is important for Dps-induced nucleoid condensation.