Studies On The Functional Roles Of Peptidase N, A M1 Family Member, During Stress And Infection
The cytosolic protein degradation pathway, performed by ATP-dependent proteases and ATP-independent peptidases, plays important roles in several cellular activities, e.g. cell division, cell cycle progression, intracellular signaling, MHC class I antigen presentation, host-pathogen interactions, etc. The roles of ATP-dependent proteases during stress and infection have been studied in great detail but the functional roles of ATP-independent peptidases are not clearly understood. In this study, the functional roles of E. coli or S. typhimurium encoded Peptidase N (PepN), an ATP-independent enzyme belonging to theM1 family of metallopeptidases, were investigated. The thesis will address four different aspects. (i) In the first part, the utility of using E coli ∆pepN to identify and characterize novel peptidases will be shown. It is known that deletion of pepN leads to inability to cleave the majority of in vitro peptidase substrates in E. coli and S. typhimurium. To study the differences between two closely related paralogs of the M17 family, E. coli encoded pepA and pepB were cloned in pBAD24 vector and introduced in E. coli ∆pepN. Peptidase A (PepA) and Peptidase B (PepB) expression increases the cleavage of several aminopeptidase substrates and partially rescues growth of ∆pepN during nutritional downshift and high temperature stress (NDHT), a dual stress involving growth in minimal media at 42°C. Purified PepA and PepB enzymes display broad substrate specificity; however, distinct differences are observed between these two paralogs: PepA is more stable at high temperature whereas PepB displays broader substrate specificity as it cleaves Asp and Insulin B chain peptide. The strategy utilized in this study, i.e. overexpression of peptidases in ∆pepN followed by screening for substrate specificities in total cell extracts, may be used to rapidly identify the substrate preferences of novel peptidases encoded in genomes of different organisms. (ii) The second aspect investigates the functional roles of PepN during stress and infection in S. typhimurium. PepN has two conserved signature motifs of the M1 family, GAMEN and HEXXH, which play roles in substrate recognition and catalysis. To address the roles of catalytic activity of PepN, the residue E-298, which is present in the HEXXH motif and acts as a general base during catalysis, was mutated to A-298 by site-specific mutagenesis and introduced into ∆pepN (pBR322/pepNE298A). Biochemical and biophysical analysis of purified PepN (WT and E298A) revealed loss of catalytic activity of E298A but no major structural changes were observed in comparison to the WT protein. The functional roles of this mutation using ∆pepN expressing pBR322/pepN or pBR322/pepNE298A were investigated using two conditions: (i) Nutritional downshift high temperature (NDHT)stress and (ii) systemic infection in mice. Monitoring growth profiles of different strains demonstrated the requirement of the enzymatic activity of PepN for adaptation and growth to NDHT stress. Earlier studies have shown that S. typhimurium ∆pepN hyper proliferates in peripheral organs during systemic infection in mice. However, expression of wild type (WT)or E298A PepN led to lower colony forming units (CFU), demonstrating that the decrease in CFU is independent of catalytic activity. These observations are consistent with lower serum amounts of inflammatory cytokines, lower tissue damage and increase in survival of mice infected with S. typhimurium expressing WT or E298A PepN. (iii) Although pathogen encoded peptidases are known to be important during infection, their roles in modulating host responses in immunocompromised individuals are not well studied. In the third part of this thesis, the roles of S. typhimurium encoded PepN were studied in mice lacking Interferon-γ (Ifnγ), a cytokine important for immunity. S. typhimurium lacking pepN displays enhanced CFU compared to WT in peripheral organs during systemic infection in C57BL/6 mice. However, Ifnγ-/-mice show higher CFU compared to C57BL/6 mice, resulting in lower fold differences between WT and ∆pepN. Concomitantly, reintroduction of pepN in ∆pepN reduces CFU, demonstrating pepN dependence. In addition, three distinct differences were observed between infection ofC57BL/6 and Ifnγ-/-mice upon infection with different S. typhimurium strains: (i) cytokine profiles, (ii) histological analysis and (iii) mice survival. Overall, the roles of the host encoded Ifnγ during infection with S. typhimurium strains with varying degrees of virulence will be highlighted. (iv) The final aspect of this study reveals differences in gene expression between S. typhimurium grown in rich medium (Luria-Bertani) versus NDHT stress. This adaptation affects several pathways and the gene expression of secretory proteins that are important for virulence in S. typhimurium are greatly reduced during NDHT stress. Also, analysis of secretory protein amounts in different media conditions shows reduction during growth in minimal media plus high temperature stress. The functional consequences of this reduction in secretory protein amounts lead to lower bacterial replication after infection of RAW cells or mice infected via the oral route. In addition, the differences in gene expression between WT and ∆pepN during these conditions were studied. Interestingly, there is reduction in expression of flagellar genes whereas the genes involved in nitrogen metabolism are upregulated in ∆pepN upon exposure to NDHT stress. Further studies were performed by quantifying the motility of different S. typhimurium strains grown in a variety of culture conditions. Overall, this part of the study attempts to compare and contrast the possible adaptive responses of WT and ∆pepN to NDHT stress. Together, this thesis addresses multiple aspects of the biochemistry and roles of the enigmatic PepN during stress and infection.
- Biochemistry (BC)