Exploiting mechanisms of utilizing the sugar d-galactose in Escherichia coli as a model system, we explored the consequences of accumulation of critical intermediates of the d-galactose metabolic pathways by monitoring cell growth, metabolites, and transcript profiles. These studies revealed both metabolic network changes far from the d-galactose pathway and changes in the global gene regulatory network. The concentration change of a critical intermediate disturbs the equilibrium state, generating a ripple effect through several metabolic pathways that ends up signaling up- or downregulation of specific sets of genes in a programmed manner to cope with the imbalance. Such long-range effects on metabolites and genetic regulatory mechanisms not only may be a common feature in bacteria but very likely operate during cellular development and differentiation in higher organisms as well as in disease cells, like cancer cells.
As the interactions of phage with mammalian innate and adaptive immune systems are better delineated and with our ability to recognize and eliminate toxins and other potentially harmful phage gene products, the potential of phage therapies is now being realized. Early efforts to use phage therapeutically were hampered by inadequate phage purification and limited knowledge of phage-bacterial and phage-human relations. However, although use of phage as an antibacterial therapy in countries that require controlled clinical studies has been hampered by the high costs of patient trials, their use as vaccines and the use of phage components such as lysolytic enzymes or lysozymes has progressed to the point of commercial applications. Recent studies concerning the intimate associations between mammalian hosts and bacterial and phage microbiomes should hasten this progress.
The metabolic network in E. coli can be severely affected by the inactivation of metabolic genes that are required to catabolize a nutrient (D-galactose). We hypothesized that the resulting accumulation of small molecules can yield local as well as systemic effects on the metabolic network. Analysis of metabolomics data in wild-type and D-galactose non-utilizing mutants, galT, galU and galE, reveal the large metabolic differences between the wild-type and the mutants when the strains were grown in D-galactose. Network mapping suggested that the enzymatic defects affected the metabolic modules located both at short- and long-ranges from the D-galactose metabolic module. These modules suggested alterations in glutathione, energy, nucleotide and lipid metabolism and disturbed carbon to nitrogen ratio in mutant strains. The altered modules are required for normal cell growth for the wild-type strain, explaining why the cell growth is inhibited in the mutants in the presence of D-galactose. Identification of these distance-based dys-regulations would enhance the systems level understanding of metabolic networks of microorganisms having importance in biomedical and biotechnological research.
The prophage state of bacteriophage ? is extremely stable and is maintained by a highly regulated level of ? repressor protein, CI, which represses lytic functions. CI regulates its own synthesis in a lysogen by activating and repressing its promoter, P(RM). CI participates in long-range interactions involving two regions of widely separated operator sites by generating a loop in the intervening DNA. We investigated the roles of each individual site under conditions that permitted DNA loop formation by using in vitro transcription assays for the first time on supercoiled DNA that mimics in vivo situation. We confirmed that DNA loops generated by oligomerization of CI bound to its operators influence the autoactivation and autorepression of P(RM) regulation. We additionally report that different configurations of DNA loops are central to this regulation--one configuration further enhances autoactivation and another is essential for autorepression of P(RM).
The HU?(E38K, V42L) mutant of the bacterial histone-like protein HU causes a major change in the transcription profile of the commensal organism Escherichia coli K-12 (Kar S, Edgar R, Adhya S, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 102:16397-16402, 2005). Among the upregulated genes are several related to pathogenic interactions with mammalian cells, as evidenced by the expression of curli fibers, Ivy, and hemolysin E. When E. coli K-12/ HU?(E38K, V42L) was added to Int-407 cells, there was host cell invasion, phagosomal disruption, and intracellular replication. The invasive trait was also retained in a murine ileal loop model and intestinal explant assays. In addition to invasion, the internalized bacteria caused a novel subversion of host cell apoptosis through modification and regulation of the BH3-only proteins Bim(EL) and Puma. Changes in the transcription profile were attributed to positive supercoiling of DNA leading to the altered availability of relevant promoters. Using the E. coli K-12/HU?(E38K, V42L) variant as a model, we propose that traditional commensal E. coli can adopt an invasive lifestyle through reprogramming its cellular transcription, without gross genetic changes.
Galactose is important for the survival and virulence of bacteria. In Escherichia coli, galactose is utilized by the Leloir pathway, which is controlled by a complex network. To shed light on the potential functions the galactose network could perform, we performed bioinformatical analysis of reference genome sequences belonging to the Enterobacteriaceae family. We found that several genomes have reduced numbers of components compared to the E. coli galactose system, suggesting that the network can be optimized for different environments. Typically, genes are removed by deletions; however, in Yersinia pestis, the galactose mutarotase (galM) gene is inactivated by a single-base-pair deletion. Lack of GalM activity indicates that the two anomers of D-galactose are used for different purposes, ?-D-galactose as a carbon source and ?-D-galactose for induction of UDP-galactose synthesis for biosynthetic glycosylation. We demonstrate that activity of the galM gene can be restored by different single-base-pair insertions. During the evolution of Y. pestis to become a vector-transmitted systemic pathogen, many genes were converted to pseudogenes. It is not clear whether pseudogenes are present to maintain meiotrophism or are in the process of elimination. Our results suggest that the galM pseudogene has not been deleted because its reactivation may be beneficial in certain environments.
Small molecules generally activate or inhibit gene transcription as externally added substrates or as internally accumulated end-products, respectively. Rarely has a connection been made that links an intracellular intermediary metabolite as a signal of gene expression. We report that a perturbation in the critical step of a metabolic pathway--the D-galactose amphibolic pathway--changes the dynamics of the pathways leading to accumulation of the intermediary metabolite UDP-galactose. This accumulation causes cell stress and transduces signals that alter gene expression so as to cope with the stress by restoring balance in the metabolite pool. This underscores the importance of studying the global effects of alterations in the level of intermediary metabolites in causing stress and coping with it by transducing signals to genes to reach a stable state of equilibrium (homeostasis). Such studies are an essential component in the integration of metabolomics, proteomics, and transcriptomics.
Many transcription factors repress transcription of their own genes. Negative autoregulation has been shown to reduce cell-cell variation in regulatory protein levels and speed up the response time in gene networks. In this work we examined transcription regulation of the galS gene and the function of its product, the GalS protein. We observed a unique operator preference of the GalS protein characterized by dominant negative autoregulation. We show that this pattern of regulation limits the repression level of the target genes in steady states. We suggest that transcription factors with dominant negative autoregulation are designed for regulating gene expression during environmental transitions.
Bending is not only required to accommodate DNA within the cell but also is a mechanism used by proteins to initiate DNA replication, transcription, and recombination. Determining the angles by which regulatory DNA segments deviate from linearity upon binding of proteins is a necessary step toward a better understanding of a large number of essential biological functions. The pBend plasmids contain duplicate sets of restriction sites and, when combined with "gel shift" experiments, allow the straightforward determination of the bending angle in a DNA molecule. The steps for successfully carrying out a binding/bending experiment are described. They include the cloning of the protein-binding site into the chosen pBend vector, the isolation of a series of DNA fragments with identical in length but variable placing of the protein-binding site, and the gel electrophoretic analysis of the free and protein-bound fragments.
Transcription of many genes is regulated by combinations of multiple signals. In Escherichia coli, combinatorial control is typical in the case of operons related to utilization of different sugars in the absence of glucose. To understand regulation of the transport and metabolic pathways in the galactose system, we measured activities of the six gal regulon promoters simultaneously, using an in vitro transcription system containing purified components. Input functions were computed on the basis of the experimental measurements. We observed four different shapes of input functions. From the results, we can conclude that the structure of the regulatory network is insufficient for the determination of signal integration. It is the actual structure of the promoter and regulatory region, the mechanism of transcription regulation, and the interplay between transcription factors that shape the input function to be suitable for adaptation.
Recently, it was proposed that DNA looping by the lambda repressor (CI protein) strengthens repression of lytic genes during lysogeny and simultaneously ensures efficient switching to lysis. To investigate this hypothesis, tethered particle motion experiments were performed and dynamic CI-mediated looping of single DNA molecules containing the lambda repressor binding sites separated by 2317 bp (the wild-type distance) was quantitatively analyzed. DNA containing all three intact operators or with mutated o3 operators were compared. Modeling the thermodynamic data established the free energy of CI octamer-mediated loop formation as 1.7 kcal/mol, which decreased to -0.7 kcal/mol when supplemented by a tetramer (octamer+tetramer-mediated loop). These results support the idea that loops secured by an octamer of CI bound at oL1, oL2, oR1 and oR2 operators must be augmented by a tetramer of CI bound at the oL3 and oR3 to be spontaneous and stable. Thus the o3 sites are critical for loops secured by the CI protein that attenuate cI expression.
Some unidentified RNA molecules, together with the nucleoid protein HU, were suggested to be involved in the nucleoid structure of Escherichia coli. HU is a conserved protein known for its role in binding to DNA and maintaining negative supercoils in the latter. HU also binds to a few RNAs, but the full spectrum of its binding targets in the cell is not known. To understand any interaction of HU with RNA in the nucleoid structure, we immunoprecipitated potential HU-RNA complexes from cells and examined bound RNAs by hybridization to whole-genome tiling arrays. We identified associations between HU and 10 new intragenic and intergenic noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs), 2 of which are homologous to the annotated bacterial interspersed mosaic elements (BIMEs) and boxC DNA repeat elements. We confirmed direct binding of HU to BIME RNA in vitro. We also studied the nucleoid shape of HU and two of the ncRNA mutants (nc1 and nc5) by transmission electron microscopy and showed that both HU and the two ncRNAs play a role in nucleoid morphology. We propose that at least two of the ncRNA species complex with HU and help the formation or maintenance of the architecture of the E. coli chromosome. We also observed binding of HU with rRNA and tRNA segments, a few small RNAs, and a distinct small set of mRNAs, although the significance, if any, of these associations is not known.
By microscopic analysis of fluorescent-labeled GalR, a regulon-specific transcription factor in Escherichia coli, we observed that GalR is present in the cell as aggregates (one to three fluorescent foci per cell) in nongrowing cells. To investigate whether these foci represent GalR-mediated association of some of the GalR specific DNA binding sites (gal operators), we used the chromosome conformation capture (3C) method in vivo. Our 3C data demonstrate that, in stationary phase cells, many of the operators distributed around the chromosome are interacted. By the use of atomic force microscopy, we showed that the observed remote chromosomal interconnections occur by direct interactions between DNA-bound GalR not involving any other factors. Mini plasmid DNA circles with three or five operators positioned at defined loci showed GalR-dependent loops of expected sizes of the intervening DNA segments. Our findings provide unique evidence that a transcription factor participates in organizing the chromosome in a three-dimensional structure. We believe that these chromosomal connections increase local concentration of GalR for coordinating the regulation of widely separated target genes, and organize the chromosome structure in space, thereby likely contributing to chromosome compaction.
In contrast to organized hierarchical structure of eukaryotic chromosome, bacterial chromosomes are believed not to have such structures. The genomes of bacteria are condensed into a compact structure called the nucleoid. Among many architectural, histone-like proteins which associate with the chromosomal DNA is HU which is implicated in folding DNA into a compact structure by bending and wrapping DNA. Unlike the majority of other histone-like proteins, HU is highly conserved in eubacteria and unique in its ability to bind RNA. Furthermore, an HU mutation profoundly alters the cellular transcription profile and consequently has global effects on physiology and the lifestyle of E. coli. Here we provide a short overview of the mechanisms by which the nucleoid is organized into different topological domains. We propose that HU is a major player in creating domain-specific superhelicities and thus influences the transcription profile from the constituent promoters. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Chromatin in time and space.
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.