The RelA hydrolase domain acts as a molecular switch for (p)ppGpp synthesis.
ABSTRACT: Bacteria synthesize guanosine tetra- and penta phosphate (commonly referred to as (p)ppGpp) in response to environmental stresses. (p)ppGpp reprograms cell physiology and is essential for stress survival, virulence and antibiotic tolerance. Proteins of the RSH superfamily (RelA/SpoT Homologues) are ubiquitously distributed and hydrolyze or synthesize (p)ppGpp. Structural studies have suggested that the shift between hydrolysis and synthesis is governed by conformational antagonism between the two active sites in RSHs. RelA proteins of γ-proteobacteria exclusively synthesize (p)ppGpp and encode an inactive pseudo-hydrolase domain. Escherichia coli RelA synthesizes (p)ppGpp in response to amino acid starvation with cognate uncharged tRNA at the ribosomal A-site, however, mechanistic details to the regulation of the enzymatic activity remain elusive. Here, we show a role of the enzymatically inactive hydrolase domain in modulating the activity of the synthetase domain of RelA. Using mutagenesis screening and functional studies, we identify a loop region (residues 114-130) in the hydrolase domain, which controls the synthetase activity. We show that a synthetase-inactive loop mutant of RelA is not affected for tRNA binding, but binds the ribosome less efficiently than wild type RelA. Our data support the model that the hydrolase domain acts as a molecular switch to regulate the synthetase activity.
Project description:Bacteria synthesize guanosine tetra- and penta phosphate (commonly referred to as (p)ppGpp) in response to environmental stresses. (p)ppGpp reprograms cell physiology and is essential for stress survival, virulence and antibiotic tolerance. Proteins of the RSH superfamily (RelA/SpoT Homologues) are ubiquitously distributed and hydrolyze or synthesize (p)ppGpp. Structural studies have suggested that the shift between hydrolysis and synthesis is governed by conformational antagonism between the two active sites in RSHs. RelA proteins of γ-proteobacteria exclusively synthesize (p)ppGpp and encode an inactive pseudo-hydrolase domain. Escherichia coli RelA synthesizes (p)ppGpp in response to amino acid starvation with cognate uncharged tRNA at the ribosomal A-site, however, mechanistic details to the regulation of the enzymatic activity on the ribosome remain elusive. Here, we show a novel role of the enzymatically inactive hydrolase domain in modulating the activity of the synthetase domain of RelA. Using random mutagenesis screening and functional studies, we identify a loop region (residues 114-130) in the hydrolase domain, which controls the synthetase activity. We show that a synthetase-inactive loop mutant of RelA is not affected for tRNA binding, but binds the ribosome less efficiently than wildtype RelA. Our data provide strong evidence to support the model that the hydrolase domain acts as a molecular switch to regulate the synthetase activity.
Project description:RelA/SpoT Homologue (RSH) proteins, named for their sequence similarity to the RelA and SpoT enzymes of Escherichia coli, comprise a superfamily of enzymes that synthesize and/or hydrolyze the alarmone ppGpp, activator of the "stringent" response and regulator of cellular metabolism. The classical "long" RSHs Rel, RelA and SpoT with the ppGpp hydrolase, synthetase, TGS and ACT domain architecture have been found across diverse bacteria and plant chloroplasts, while dedicated single domain ppGpp-synthesizing and -hydrolyzing RSHs have also been discovered in disparate bacteria and animals respectively. However, there is considerable confusion in terms of nomenclature and no comprehensive phylogenetic and sequence analyses have previously been carried out to classify RSHs on a genomic scale. We have performed high-throughput sensitive sequence searching of over 1000 genomes from across the tree of life, in combination with phylogenetic analyses to consolidate previous ad hoc identification of diverse RSHs in different organisms and provide a much-needed unifying terminology for the field. We classify RSHs into 30 subgroups comprising three groups: long RSHs, small alarmone synthetases (SASs), and small alarmone hydrolases (SAHs). Members of nineteen previously unidentified RSH subgroups can now be studied experimentally, including previously unknown RSHs in archaea, expanding the "stringent response" to this domain of life. We have analyzed possible combinations of RSH proteins and their domains in bacterial genomes and compared RSH content with available RSH knock-out data for various organisms to determine the rules of combining RSHs. Through comparative sequence analysis of long and small RSHs, we find exposed sites limited in conservation to the long RSHs that we propose are involved in transmitting regulatory signals. Such signals may be transmitted via NTD to CTD intra-molecular interactions, or inter-molecular interactions either among individual RSH molecules or among long RSHs and other binding partners such as the ribosome.
Project description:RelA/SpoT Homologs (RSHs) are ubiquitous bacterial enzymes that synthesize and hydrolyze (p)ppGpp in response to environmental challenges. Bacteria cannot survive in hosts and produce infection without activating the (p)ppGpp-mediated stringent response, but it is not yet understood how the enzymatic activities of RSHs are controlled. Using UV crosslinking and deep sequencing, we show that Escherichia coli RelA [(p)ppGpp synthetase I] interacts with uncharged tRNA during steady-state cell growth without being activated. Amino acid starvation leads to loading of cognate tRNA·RelA complexes at vacant ribosomal A-sites. In turn, RelA is activated and synthesizes (p)ppGpp. Mutation of a single, conserved residue in RelA simultaneously prevents tRNA binding, ribosome binding, and activation of RelA, showing that all three processes are interdependent. Our results support a model in which (p)ppGpp synthesis occurs by ribosome-bound RelA interacting with the Sarcin-Ricin Loop of 23S rRNA.
Project description:The (p)ppGpp-mediated stringent response is a bacterial stress response implicated in virulence and antibiotic tolerance. Both synthesis and degradation of the (p)ppGpp alarmone nucleotide are mediated by RelA-SpoT Homolog (RSH) enzymes which can be broadly divided in two classes: single-domain 'short' and multi-domain 'long' RSH. The regulatory ACT (Aspartokinase, Chorismate mutase and TyrA)/RRM (RNA Recognition Motif) domain is a near-universal C-terminal domain of long RSHs. Deletion of RRM in both monofunctional (synthesis-only) RelA as well as bifunctional (i.e., capable of both degrading and synthesizing the alarmone) Rel renders the long RSH cytotoxic due to overproduction of (p)ppGpp. To probe the molecular mechanism underlying this effect we characterized Escherichia coli RelA and Bacillus subtilis Rel RSHs lacking RRM. We demonstrate that, first, the cytotoxicity caused by the removal of RRM is counteracted by secondary mutations that disrupt the interaction of the RSH with the starved ribosomal complex - the ultimate inducer of (p)ppGpp production by RelA and Rel - and, second, that the hydrolytic activity of Rel is not abrogated in the truncated mutant. Therefore, we conclude that the overproduction of (p)ppGpp by RSHs lacking the RRM domain is not explained by a lack of auto-inhibition in the absence of RRM or/and a defect in (p)ppGpp hydrolysis. Instead, we argue that it is driven by misregulation of the RSH activation by the ribosome.
Project description:Stringent response is a conserved bacterial stress response underlying virulence and antibiotic resistance. RelA/SpoT-homolog proteins synthesize transcriptional modulators (p)ppGpp, allowing bacteria to adapt to stress. RelA is activated during amino-acid starvation, when cognate deacyl-tRNA binds to the ribosomal A (aminoacyl-tRNA) site. We report four cryo-EM structures of E. coli RelA bound to the 70S ribosome, in the absence and presence of deacyl-tRNA accommodating in the 30S A site. The boomerang-shaped RelA with a wingspan of more than 100 Å wraps around the A/R (30S A-site/RelA-bound) tRNA. The CCA end of the A/R tRNA pins the central TGS domain against the 30S subunit, presenting the (p)ppGpp-synthetase domain near the 30S spur. The ribosome and A/R tRNA are captured in three conformations, revealing hitherto elusive states of tRNA engagement with the ribosomal decoding center. Decoding-center rearrangements are coupled with the step-wise 30S-subunit 'closure', providing insights into the dynamics of high-fidelity tRNA decoding.
Project description:Transcription and translation of mRNA's are coordinated processes in bacteria. We have previously shown that a mutant form of EF-Tu (Gln125Arg) in Salmonella Typhimurium with a reduced affinity for aa-tRNA, causes ribosome pausing, resulting in an increased rate of RNase E-mediated mRNA cleavage, causing extremely slow growth, even on rich medium. The slow growth phenotype is reversed by mutations that reduce RNase E activity. Here we asked whether the slow growth phenotype could be reversed by overexpression of a wild-type gene. We identified spoT (encoding ppGpp synthetase/hydrolase) as a gene that partially reversed the slow growth rate when overexpressed. We found that the slow-growing mutant had an abnormally high basal level of ppGpp that was reduced when spoT was overexpressed. Inactivating relA (encoding the ribosome-associated ppGpp synthetase) also reduced ppGpp levels and significantly increased growth rate. Because RelA responds specifically to deacylated tRNA in the ribosomal A-site this suggested that the tuf mutant had an increased level of deacylated tRNA relative to the wild-type. To test this hypothesis we measured the relative acylation levels of 4 families of tRNAs and found that proline isoacceptors were acylated at a lower level in the mutant strain relative to the wild-type. In addition, the level of the proS tRNA synthetase mRNA was significantly lower in the mutant strain. We suggest that an increased level of deacylated tRNA in the mutant strain stimulates RelA-mediated ppGpp production, causing changes in transcription pattern that are inappropriate for rich media conditions, and contributing to slow growth rate. Reducing ppGpp levels, by altering the activity of either SpoT or RelA, removes one cause of the slow growth and reveals the interconnectedness of intracellular regulatory mechanisms.
Project description:The stringent response is characterized by (p)ppGpp synthesis resulting in repression of translation and reprogramming of the transcriptome. In Staphylococcus aureus, (p)ppGpp is synthesized by the long RSH (RelA/SpoT homolog) enzyme, RelSau or by one of the two short synthetases (RelP, RelQ). RSH enzymes are characterized by an N-terminal enzymatic domain bearing distinct motifs for (p)ppGpp synthetase or hydrolase activity and a C-terminal regulatory domain (CTD) containing conserved motifs (TGS, DC and ACT). The intramolecular switch between synthetase and hydrolase activity of RelSau is crucial for the adaption of S. aureus to stress (stringent) or non-stress (relaxed) conditions. We elucidated the role of the CTD in the enzymatic activities of RelSau. Growth pattern, transcriptional analyses and in vitro assays yielded the following results: i) in vivo, under relaxed conditions, as well as in vitro, the CTD inhibits synthetase activity but is not required for hydrolase activity; ii) under stringent conditions, the CTD is essential for (p)ppGpp synthesis; iii) RelSau lacking the CTD exhibits net hydrolase activity when expressed in S. aureus but net (p)ppGpp synthetase activity when expressed in E. coli; iv) the TGS and DC motifs within the CTD are required for correct stringent response, whereas the ACT motif is dispensable, v) Co-immunoprecipitation indicated that the CTD interacts with the ribosome, which is largely dependent on the TGS motif. In conclusion, RelSau primarily exists in a synthetase-OFF/hydrolase-ON state, the TGS motif within the CTD is required to activate (p)ppGpp synthesis under stringent conditions.
Project description:During the diauxic shift, Escherichia coli exhausts glucose and adjusts its expression pattern to grow on a secondary carbon source. Transcriptional profiling studies of glucose-lactose diauxic transitions reveal a key role for ppGpp. The amount of ppGpp depends on RelA synthetase and the balance between a strong SpoT hydrolase and its weak synthetase. In this study, mutants are used to search for synthetase or hydrolase specific regulation. Diauxic shifts experiments were performed with strains containing SpoT hydrolase and either RelA or SpoT synthetase as the sole source of ppGpp. Here, the length of the diauxic lag times is determined by the presence of ppGpp, showing contributions of both ppGpp synthetases (RelA and SpoT) as well as its hydrolase (SpoT). A balanced ppGpp response is key for a proper adaptation during diauxic shift. The effects of one or the other ppGpp synthetase on diauxic shifts are abolished by addition of amino acids or succinate, although by different mechanisms. While amino acids control the RelA response, succinate blocks the uptake of the excreted acetate via SatP. Acetate is converted to Acetyl-CoA through the ackA-pta pathway, producing Ac-P as intermediate. Evidence of control of the ackA-pta operon as well as a correlation between ppGpp and Ac-P is shown. Finally, acetylation of proteins is shown to occur during a diauxic glucose-lactose shift.
Project description:Bacteria respond to nutritional stresses by changing the cellular concentration of the alarmone (p)ppGpp. This control mechanism, called the stringent response, depends on two enzymes, the (p)ppGpp synthetase RelA and the bifunctional (p)ppGpp synthetase/hydrolase SpoT in <i>Escherichia coli</i> and related bacteria. Because SpoT is the only enzyme responsible for (p)ppGpp hydrolysis in these bacteria, SpoT activity needs to be tightly regulated to prevent the uncontrolled accumulation of (p)ppGpp, which is lethal. To date, however, no such regulation of SpoT (p)ppGpp hydrolase activity has been documented in <i>E. coli</i> In this study, we show that Rsd directly interacts with SpoT and stimulates its (p)ppGpp hydrolase activity. Dephosphorylated HPr, but not phosphorylated HPr, of the phosphoenolpyruvate-dependent sugar phosphotransferase system could antagonize the stimulatory effect of Rsd on SpoT (p)ppGpp hydrolase activity. Thus, we suggest that Rsd is a carbon source-dependent regulator of the stringent response in <i>E. coli</i>.
Project description:Under stressful conditions, bacterial RelA-SpoT Homolog (RSH) enzymes synthesize the alarmone (p)ppGpp, a nucleotide second messenger. (p)ppGpp rewires bacterial transcription and metabolism to cope with stress, and, at high concentrations, inhibits the process of protein synthesis and bacterial growth to save and redirect resources until conditions improve. Single-domain small alarmone synthetases (SASs) are RSH family members that contain the (p)ppGpp synthesis (SYNTH) domain, but lack the hydrolysis (HD) domain and regulatory C-terminal domains of the long RSHs such as Rel, RelA, and SpoT. We asked whether analysis of the genomic context of SASs can indicate possible functional roles. Indeed, multiple SAS subfamilies are encoded in widespread conserved bicistronic operon architectures that are reminiscent of those typically seen in toxin-antitoxin (TA) operons. We have validated five of these SASs as being toxic (toxSASs), with neutralization by the protein products of six neighboring antitoxin genes. The toxicity of Cellulomonas marina toxSAS FaRel is mediated by the accumulation of alarmones ppGpp and ppApp, and an associated depletion of cellular guanosine triphosphate and adenosine triphosphate pools, and is counteracted by its HD domain-containing antitoxin. Thus, the ToxSAS-antiToxSAS system with its multiple different antitoxins exemplifies how ancient nucleotide-based signaling mechanisms can be repurposed as TA modules during evolution, potentially multiple times independently.