An 11-subunit protein called trp RNA binding Attenuation Protein (TRAP) controls attenuation of the tryptophan biosynthetic (trpEDCFBA) operon in Bacillus subtilis. Tryptophan-activated TRAP binds to 11 (G/U)AG repeats in the 5' leader region of trp mRNAs, and downregulates expression of the operon by promoting transcription termination prior to the structural genes. Anti-TRAP (AT) is an antagonist that binds to tryptophan-activated TRAP and prevents TRAP from binding to RNA, thereby upregulating expression of the trp genes. AT forms trimers, and multiple trimers bind to a TRAP 11mer. It is not known how many trimers must bind to TRAP in order to interfere with RNA binding. Studies of isolated TRAP and AT showed that AT can prevent TRAP from binding to the trp leader RNA but cannot dissociate a pre-formed TRAP-RNA complex. Here, we show that AT can prevent TRAP-mediated termination of transcription by inducing dissociation of TRAP from the nascent RNA when it has bound to fewer than all 11 (G/U)AG repeats. The 5'-most region of the TRAP binding site in the nascent transcript is most susceptible to dissociation from TRAP. We also show that one AT trimer bound to TRAP 11mer reduces the affinity of TRAP for RNA and eliminates TRAP-mediated transcription termination in vitro.
The control of tryptophan production in Bacillus is a paradigmatic example of gene regulation involving the interplay of multiple protein and nucleic acid components. Central to this combinatorial mechanism are the homo-oligomeric proteins TRAP (trp RNA-binding attenuation protein) and anti-TRAP (AT). TRAP forms undecameric rings, and AT assembles into triskelion-shaped trimers. Upon activation by tryptophan, the outer circumference of the TRAP ring binds specifically to a series of tandem sequences present in the 5' UTR of RNA transcripts encoding several tryptophan metabolism genes, leading to their silencing. AT, whose expression is up-regulated upon tryptophan depletion to concentrations not exceeding a ratio of one AT trimer per TRAP 11-mer, restores tryptophan production by binding activated TRAP and preventing RNA binding. How the smaller AT inhibitor prevents RNA binding at such low stoichiometries has remained a puzzle, in part because of the large RNA-binding surface on the tryptophan-activated TRAP ring and its high affinity for RNA. Using X-ray scattering, hydrodynamic, and mass spectrometric data, we show that the polydentate action of AT trimers can condense multiple intact TRAP rings into large heterocomplexes, effectively reducing the available contiguous RNA-binding surfaces. This finding reveals an unprecedented mechanism for substoichiometric inhibition of a gene-regulatory protein, which may be a widespread but underappreciated regulatory mechanism in pathways that involve homo-oligomeric or polyvalent components.
In Bacillus subtilis, transcription of the tryptophan biosynthetic operon is regulated by an attenuation mechanism. When intracellular tryptophan levels are high, the TRAP protein binds to the 5' leader region of the nascent trp mRNA and induces transcription termination prior to the structural genes. In limiting tryptophan, TRAP does not bind and the operon is transcribed. Two competing RNA secondary structures termed the antiterminator and terminator (attenuator) can form in the leader region RNA. In prior attenuation models, the only role of TRAP binding was to alter the RNA secondary structure to allow formation of the attenuator, which has been thought function as an intrinsic transcription terminator. However, recent studies have shown that the attenuator is not an effective intrinsic terminator. From these studies it was not clear whether TRAP functions independently or requires the presence of the attenuator RNA structure. Hence we have further examined the role of the attenuator RNA in TRAP-mediated transcription termination. TRAP was found to cause efficient transcription termination in the trp leader region in vivo when the attenuator was mutated or deleted. However, TRAP failed to induce transcription termination at these mutant attenuators in a minimal in vitro transcription system with B. subtilis RNA polymerase. Further studies using this system showed that NusA as well as the timing of TRAP binding to RNA play a role in the observed differences in vivo and in vitro.
The trp RNA-binding Attenuation Protein (TRAP) assembles into an 11-fold symmetric ring that regulates transcription and translation of trp-mRNA in bacilli via heterotropic allosteric activation by the amino acid tryptophan (Trp). Whereas nuclear magnetic resonance studies have revealed that Trp-induced activation coincides with both ?s-ms rigidification and local structural changes in TRAP, the pathway of binding of the 11 Trp ligands to the TRAP ring remains unclear. Moreover, because each of eleven bound Trp molecules is completely surrounded by protein, its release requires flexibility of Trp-bound (holo) TRAP. Here, we used stopped-flow fluorescence to study the kinetics of Trp binding by Bacillus stearothermophilus TRAP over a range of temperatures and we observed well-separated kinetic steps. These data were analyzed using non-linear least-squares fitting of several two- and three-step models. We found that a model with two binding steps best describes the data, although the structural equivalence of the binding sites in TRAP implies a fundamental change in the time-dependent structure of the TRAP rings upon Trp binding. Application of the two binding step model reveals that Trp binding is much slower than the diffusion limit, suggesting a gating mechanism that depends on the dynamics of apo TRAP. These data also reveal that Trp dissociation from the second binding mode is much slower than after the first Trp binding mode, revealing insight into the mechanism for positive homotropic allostery, or cooperativity. Temperature dependent analyses reveal that both binding modes imbue increases in bondedness and order toward a more compressed active state. These results provide insight into mechanisms of cooperative TRAP activation, and underscore the importance of protein dynamics for ligand binding, ligand release, protein activation, and allostery.
Termination of transcription of vaccinia virus early genes requires the virion form of the viral RNA polymerase (RNAP), a termination signal (UUUUUNU) in the nascent RNA, vaccinia termination factor, nucleoside triphosphate phosphohydrolase I (NPH I), and ATP. NPH I uses ATP hydrolysis to mediate transcript release, and in vitro, ATPase activity requires single-stranded DNA. NPH I shows sequence similarity with the DEXH-box family of proteins, which includes an Escherichia coli ATP-dependent motor protein, Mfd. Mfd releases transcripts and rescues arrested transcription complexes by moving the transcription elongation complex downstream on the DNA template in the absence of transcription elongation. This mechanism is known as forward translocation. In this study, we demonstrate that NPH I also uses forward translocation to catalyze transcript release from viral RNAP. Moreover, we show that NPH I-mediated release can occur at a stalled RNAP in the absence of vaccinia termination factor and U(5)NU when transcription elongation is prevented.
Many critical cellular functions are performed by multisubunit circular protein oligomers whose internal geometry has evolved to meet functional requirements. The subunit number is arguably the most critical parameter of a circular protein assembly, affecting the internal and external diameters of the assembly and often impacting on the proteins function. Although accurate structural information has been obtained for several circular proteins, a lack of accurate information on alternative oligomeric states has prevented engineering such transitions. In this study we used the bacterial transcription regulator TRAP as a model system to investigate the features that define the oligomeric state of a circular protein and to question how the subunit number could be manipulated.
The trp RNA-binding attenuation protein (TRAP) is a paradigmatic allosteric protein that regulates the tryptophan biosynthetic genes associated with the trp operon in bacilli. The ring-shaped 11-mer TRAP is activated for recognition of a specific trp-mRNA target by binding up to 11 tryptophan molecules. To characterize the mechanisms of tryptophan-induced TRAP activation, we have performed methyl relaxation dispersion (MRD) nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) experiments that probe the time-dependent structure of TRAP in the microsecond-to-millisecond "chemical exchange" time window. We find significant side chain flexibility localized to the RNA and tryptophan binding sites of the apo protein and that these dynamics are dramatically reduced upon ligand binding. Analysis of the MRD NMR data provides insights into the structural nature of transiently populated conformations sampled in solution by apo TRAP. The MRD data are inconsistent with global two-state exchange, indicating that conformational sampling in apo TRAP is asynchronous. These findings imply a temporally heterogeneous population of structures that are incompatible with RNA binding and substantiate the study of TRAP as a paradigm for probing and understanding essential dynamics in allosteric, regulatory proteins.
The Bacillus subtilis trpEDCFBA operon is regulated by a transcription attenuation mechanism controlled by the trp RNA-binding attenuation protein (TRAP). TRAP binds to 11 (G/U)AG repeats in the trp leader transcript and prevents formation of an antiterminator, which allows formation of an intrinsic terminator (attenuator). Previously, formation of the attenuator RNA structure was believed to be solely responsible for signaling RNA polymerase (RNAP) to halt transcription. However, base substitutions that prevent formation of the antiterminator, and thus allow the attenuator structure to form constitutively, do not result in efficient transcription termination. The observation that the attenuator requires the presence of TRAP bound to the nascent RNA to cause efficient transcription termination suggests TRAP has an additional role in causing termination at the attenuator. We show that the trp attenuator is a weak intrinsic terminator due to low GC content of the hairpin stem and interruptions in the U-stretch following the hairpin. We also provide evidence that termination at the trp attenuator requires forward translocation of RNA polymerase and that TRAP binding to the nascent transcript can induce this activity.
Anti-TRAP (AT) is a small zinc-binding protein that regulates tryptophan biosynthesis in Bacillus subtilis by binding to tryptophan-bound trp RNA-binding attenuation protein (TRAP), thereby preventing it from binding RNA, and allowing transcription and translation of the trpEDCFBA operon. Crystallographic and sedimentation studies have shown that AT can homooligomerize to form a dodecamer, AT(12), composed of a tetramer of trimers, AT(3). Structural and biochemical studies suggest that only trimeric AT is active for binding to TRAP. Our chromatographic and spectroscopic data revealed that a large fraction of recombinantly overexpressed AT retains the N-formyl group (fAT), presumably due to incomplete N-formyl-methionine processing by peptide deformylase. Hydrodynamic parameters from NMR relaxation and diffusion measurements showed that fAT is exclusively trimeric (AT(3)), while (deformylated) AT exhibits slow exchange between both trimeric and dodecameric forms. We examined this equilibrium using NMR spectroscopy and found that oligomerization of active AT(3) to form inactive AT(12) is linked to protonation of the amino terminus. Global analysis of the pH dependence of the trimer-dodecamer equilibrium revealed a near physiological pK(a) for the N-terminal amine of AT and yielded a pH-dependent oligomerization equilibrium constant. Estimates of excluded volume effects due to molecular crowding suggest the oligomerization equilibrium may be physiologically important. Because deprotonation favors "active" trimeric AT and protonation favors "inactive" dodecameric AT, our findings illuminate a possible mechanism for sensing and responding to changes in cellular pH.
Anti-TRAP (AT) protein regulates expression of tryptophan biosynthetic genes by binding to the trp RNA-binding attenuation protein (TRAP) and preventing its interaction with RNA. Bacillus subtilis AT forms trimers that can either interact with TRAP or can further assemble into dodecameric particles. To determine which oligomeric forms are preserved in AT proteins of other Bacilli we studied Bacillus licheniformis AT which shares 66% sequence identity with the B. subtilis protein. We show that in solution B. licheniformis AT forms stable trimers. In crystals, depending on pH, such trimers assemble into two different types of dodecameric particles, both having 23 point group symmetry. The dodecamer formed at pH 6.0 has the same conformation as previously observed for B. subtilis AT. This dodecamer contains a large internal chamber with the volume of approximately 700 A(3), which is lined by the side chains of twelve valine residues. The presence of the hydrophobic chamber hints at the possibility that the dodecamer formation could be induced by binding of a ligand. Interestingly, in the dodecamer formed at pH 8.0 all trimers are turned inside out relatively to the form observed at pH 6.0.
Subunit number is amongst the most important structural parameters that determine size, symmetry and geometry of a circular protein oligomer. The L-tryptophan biosynthesis regulator, TRAP, present in several Bacilli, is a good model system for investigating determinants of the oligomeric state. A short segment of C-terminal residues defines whether TRAP forms an 11-mer or 12-mer assembly. To understand which oligomeric state is more stable, we examine the stability of several wild type and mutant TRAP proteins.
Related JoVE Video
Journal of Visualized Experiments
What is Visualize?
JoVE Visualize is a tool created to match the last 5 years of PubMed publications to methods in JoVE's video library.
How does it work?
We use abstracts found on PubMed and match them to JoVE videos to create a list of 10 to 30 related methods videos.
Video X seems to be unrelated to Abstract Y...
In developing our video relationships, we compare around 5 million PubMed articles to our library of over 4,500 methods videos. In some cases the language used in the PubMed abstracts makes matching that content to a JoVE video difficult. In other cases, there happens not to be any content in our video library that is relevant to the topic of a given abstract. In these cases, our algorithms are trying their best to display videos with relevant content, which can sometimes result in matched videos with only a slight relation.